Parts of England under 'red alert' flood warning, some areas evacuated

LONDON -- Parts of northwest England already hit hard by flooding in recent weeks were under severe flood warnings Saturday because of forecasts for more heavy rain, with some areas being evacuated.

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The Environmental Agency "red alert" warnings issued Saturday mean there is a danger of loss of life due to flooding in those areas. Some 15 "severe" alerts had been issued by Saturday afternoon, with more expected.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in the Lancashire area 220 miles (355 kilometres) northwest of London after water breached flood barriers following torrential rains.

Water poured into the streets in some areas. People in some towns were told to abandon their homes for higher ground while others were told to move their valuables and listen to advice from emergency services about possible evacuation.

An Army company has helped build temporary flood defences in Cumbria in the northwest of England as residents struggle following waves of winter storms accompanies by heavy rains.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart said rainfall in the flooded areas is unprecedented.

He said in some areas, a month's worth of rain could fall in one day on ground already saturated from earlier rains.

There were more than 335 additional flood alerts for other parts of England, Scotland and Wales.

The government's emergency ministerial group, known as Cobra, met on Christmas Day to make contingency plans for more rainfall.

Officials said 85 per cent of Britain's flood defence barriers have already been deployed to the Cumbria area.


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