Helston floods: as it happened

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  • At 3am on Saturday morning around 200 Helston householders were advised to evacuate due to flooding.
  • A severe flood warning, meaning "risk to life," was in place for two days on the River Cober through the town.
  • Response teams worked throughout the night on Saturday to clear flood water from badly affected areas, at some points pumping as much as 9,000 litres a minute.
  • Feared further heavy rain failed to materialise and the severe flood warning was stood down on the morning of Christmas Eve.

4:42pm

Almost 245 houses were affected by flooding over the weekend according to Devon and Cornwall Police, including 30 commercial properties.

Rainfall is expected to clear from the region eastwards today and river levels remain high but are generally now receding.

This situation could "easily change," however, as more rain falls over the coming days.

A police spokesperson said: "A large number of B roads were closed over the weekend as well as some A roads, but most have now re-opened.

"Although the heaviest rainfall has now eased the public are advised to remain vigilant as potentially more heavy showers are expected during Christmas Day - especially in the evening - and into Boxing Day."

The coastguard is advising festive walkers to stay away from rivers and coastal paths while the police warn motorists to "be aware of surface water, potholes and the potential for landslips."

4:17pm

12:55pm

The Met Office has now downgraded today's weather warning for Cornwall from "amber" to "yellow" alert.

Further showers, at times heavy, are forecast for the region until the day after Boxing Day (December 27) but no more "amber" alerts are in place.

There is still a risk of localised flooding "given the already saturated ground," forecasters said.

10:34am

Cardinham, near Bodmin, has been named the wettest place in England by the Met Office with 128.8mm (5in) of rain falling there since December 19.

Just over the border, in Plymouth, more rain has fallen in the past five days than usually does in the entire month of December - 128mm compared to the December average of 118.8mm.

The wettest place in the whole of the UK from December 19 to 6am this morning was declared as Tyndrum in Perthshire, Scotland where more than 155mm (6in) fell.

A map showing Cardinham near Bodmin - the "wettest place in England" over the past five days:

The Met Office are predicting further unsettled weather in the coming week and are urging the public to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.

10:17am

The severe flood warning for the River Cober through Helston has now been stood down.

Pumping operations in the Loe Pool have been declared a partial success and river levels are said to have "stabilised."

A post on the Environment Agency's website reads: "The Loe Pool pumping operations are continuing and have stabilised levels.

"As a result the immediate risk of severe flooding has passed.

"However, all catchments remain very wet and further moderate rain is expected through Monday and into Tuesday. We will continue to monitor the situation."

A "flood warning," meaning flooding is still expected but no longer poses a threat to life, is still in place.

10:15am

 

10:06am

Rail passengers attempting to come to Cornwall for Christmas are in for a nightmare commute - and may not even make it at all.

Anyone hoping to travel on the London Paddington to Penzance line has been advised to "make alternative arrangements."

Flood water is blocking the line between Tiverton and Exeter and there are only limited bus replacements available.

At Cowley Bridge, Devon Network Rail engineers built 'blow up' plastic dams for the first time, in a bid to stop water getting into signal boxes.

However, the company has said that water from the River Exe had washed part of the ground away under areas of track.

Flood water will have to recede before repairs can be made.

Trains between London Paddington and Penzance use this area.

Network Rail has said the line could be closed for up to five days.

South West Trains has said it will accept tickets from First Great Western passengers travelling to Cornwall and Devon.

Routies between Par and Newquay, Liskeard and Looe and also Exeter and Barnstaple were flooded yesterday morning and are still facing problems according to First Great Western.

The train company has said that tickets intended for travel yesterday would still be valid to use today.

9:19am

MONDAY

Despite a mainly dry day yesterday, a severe flood warning remains in place on the River Cober in Helston this morning.

However, the heavy rain forecast for last night did not materialise, and the river levels are remaining stable at present.

Today's forecast suggests rain should clear during the morning, with a dry spell followed by showers this evening and into Christmas Day.

10:24pm

At the last update, crews were on standby in Helston ready for more rain forecast through the night.

A severe flood warning remains in force for the River Cober and the Met Office is predicting further spells of rain during the bulk of Christmas Eve.

An amber weathing warning is in place for the whole of Cornwall from midnight, with the Met's chief forecasters saying the "already saturated ground" will result in surface water, further river flooding and disruption to travel.

More as we have it.

10:23pm

More temporary homes have become available to those affected by flooding in Helston over the Christmas period.

There are now 12 locations for people to stay if they are unable to return home due to their houses being ruined by flood water.

Contact Mark Upton on 07968 842378 or Emma Wooderson on 07966 976068.

7:58pm

7:58pm

7:57pm

7:03pm

6:34pm

5:32pm

The severe flood warning issued by the Environment Agency for Helston is still in force this evening, making it the only remaining warning of this severity still in place anywhere in the UK.

River levels through Helston remain high following last night's rainfall, the agency warns, and they are "closely monitoring" the situation.

The updated warning reads: "We are continuing to pump from Loe Pool to minimise the impact on levels upstream in Helston, however the pool continues to rise slowly, increasing flood risk upstream.

"Between 15 and 20mm of rain is expected overnight on Sunday into Monday, which is likely to cause the river level in Helston to rise."

The St Johns Road, St Johns Close, Coronation Park and Loe Pool areas are most at risk.

5:31pm

4:41pm

Emergency temporary accomodation is now available for anyone affected by flooding in the town over the Christmas period.

There a few locations being offered by Helston's Methodist minister Rev Danny Reed, working alongside the team from the Epworth Hall.

Mark Upton, chairman of the hall, said: "If things go horribly wrong anybody over the next few days we can add this to our list of resources."

Anyone in need of help can contact Mark on 07968 842378 or Emma Wooderson on 07966 976068.

The hall remains on standby as an evacuation centre, with Mark and Emma still on call via the above numbers.

2:55pm

The Met Office's "rainfall radar" is showing a thick band of rain headed for Cornwall, with up to 8mm an hour expected in places.

Falmouth Packet:

View the rainfall radar on the Met Office website by clicking here.

2:49pm

12:42pm

To see how the flooding is causing chaos in Devon click the link here:

http://www.middevonstar.co.uk/news/10119974.Devon_soaked_after_weekend_rain/

For national news on how the flooding is affecting the rest of the country click this link:

http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/national/10125192.Homes_evacuated_following_flooding/

12:08pm

12:05pm

Residents of Helston affected by flooding are returning to their homes this morning, to assess the damage.

One such person is Dawn Williams, who rents a house in St John's Road.

She had around eight inches of water in her home yesterday and was forced to take refuge with her seven-year-old son Ceri at her mother's house nearby.

This morning she has returned to find furniture with water marks, books with the pages curling and some very soggy carpet.

Amazingly her beloved car, Bertie, started first time - despite still having a pool of water in the driver's footwell.

However, while the town is dry once again, many people are well aware that more rain is forecast and there could well be a repeat of yesterday's problems.

Dawn said: "The next lot is supposed to be coming this afternoon and the river is still high. We're going to try and do what we can."

11:56am

11:42am

10:07am

9:04am

9:04am

The Met Office has updated its weather warning for the South West this morning, scaling back from an amber "be prepared" to a yellow "be aware".

According to the chief forecaster, this yellow warning for rain means it should "largely clear away northeastwards" throughout the morning.

Further heavy rain is still expected for tomorrow however and an amber warning is still in place for the county on Christmas Eve with "an increased risk of both surface water and river flooding along with disruption to travel."

The Environment Agency's severe flood warning for the River Cober at Helston remains in force.

Much of the United Kingdom will be subject to wet weather today, according to the Met Office's updated weather warning map:

Falmouth Packet:

4:37am

2:17am

SUNDAY

 

10:51pm

9:13pm

Further rain is expected to fall widely overnight, peaking between 3.00am and 6.00am tomorrow morning (Sunday, December 23).

Offical advice, from the police, reads:

  • If your journey is not necessary, delay it.
  • If you are travelling by road "drive to the conditions" and keep your speed down.
  • Driving in the dark in rural areas can be particularly hazardous in difficult conditions and depths of water can easily be underestimated - it only takes 30 cm of water to float a car, and you can quickly become stranded.
  • The rule is "if you do not know how the deep the water is, do not enter it."

Additionally, if on foot the advice states NOT to enter flood water – it is "exceptionally dangerous", and as little as 15 cm of water can knock a person off their feet.

9:04pm

Keen amateur photographer Jake Riding took this highly appropriate picture of a street named "Drippy Droppy" in Helston earlier today.

Falmouth Packet:

(via JR Photography)

You can see more of Jake's pictures of the floods on his Facebook page.

8:06pm

7:24pm

7:12pm

Cornwall Councillor Andy Wallis has contacted the Packet to say that the river at Methleigh Bottom is "at breaking point."

Anyone in the area should be aware and take care.

The road at Methleigh Bottom has been closed and motorists have been warned not to use it.

Mr Wallis said that some people have been driving straight past the sign, putting themselves in danger.

7:08pm

The evacuation centre at Helston's Epworth Hall has swung into action this evening.

A resident from one of the first houses to flood received help earlier and has since been found alternative accomodation by Coastline Housing.

Since then people have been popping in and out the hall for a respite from the cold and rain.

6:50pm

Those needing shelter from flooding in Helston can go to the Epworth Hall until around 11pm, although if the situation deteriorates further doors could be open longer.

After that Mark Upton will be on call on 07968 842378 and Emma Wooderson on 07966 976068.

They can be contacted in an emergency at any time over the night.

5:48pm

The Environment Agency has issued two emergency numbers people can call to report flooding and get advice overnight.

For help and support call the floodline number 0845 988 1188.

To report flooding call 0800 807060.

Both lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

5:35pm

The latest travel advice is that St John's Road is only just passable due to flooding.

Fire services have placed ramps down to help vehicles pass, but motorists are still asked to avoid this area.

With rain now falling again, the situation is likely to worsen as the evening progresses.

5:26pm

5:18pm

Cornwall Council is warning people to stay away from the edge of flood swollen rivers, as it is impossible to know how deep they are.

5:13pm

5:00pm

Cornwall Council has warned motorists not to drive through flood water, as it might be deeper than it looks.

4:58pm

4:47pm

Cornwall Council has increased the number of properties it believes have been affected by flooding in Cornwall since this morning to 163.

4:46pm

4:29pm

Cornwall Councillor Andy Wallis believes that if the water in Porthleven's river rises by just one more inch it will burst.

4:23pm

4:22pm

4:21pm

With some trains cancelled in Cornwall and replacement bus services unable to operate due to flood water on the roads, First Great Western has said that rail tickets for today will still be valid for travel on December 23 and 24.

However, the company has asked: "Please stay as near to your booked service time as possible."

4:19pm

4:14pm

4:09pm

Helston resident Simone Taylor took this picture of the flooding in Porthleven:

Falmouth Packet:

(via @SimoneTaylor15)

4:07pm

4:06pm

4:06pm

4:05pm

Cornwall Councillor Andy Wallis is reporting that Porthleven is "at breaking point."

He added that the port's culvert was clearing it, but said: "I've never seen it like this."

4:00pm

Anyone going to the evacuation centre set up at Helston's Epworth Hall should head round to the right hand side of the Methodist church in Coinagehall Street to find the entrance.

ShelterBox has donated 40 blankets, while Helston Farmers' Market has given food. Volunteers are now cooking up pots of hot soup to feed people stranded and evacuated from their homes.

Emma Wooderson from the Epworth Hall said the team had been on standby since 2am today.

She added: "I think lots of residents have gone to families. We will try and take food down later if it's needed."

Ms Wooderson said the hall would be open throughout the day and evening, into the night if needed, and would be somewhere dry for people to sleep.

3:48pm

There are reports of severe flooding on the A394 Penzance Road in Helston, near the B3304 Porthleven Road junction.

Drivers are advised to avoid the area.

3:41pm

3:31pm

Almost 9,000 litres of water is being pumped out of Helston's flooded areas every minute, according to reports.

Town mayoress Wendy Radford Gaby took this picture of cars slowing down to drive over a fire hose:

Falmouth Packet:

3:19pm

3:13pm

2:58pm

 

2:33pm

Packet reporter Emma Ferguson is en route to the Helston rest centre to speak to evacuees.

More as we have it, from @ThePacket, @PacketEmma and @PacketGreg

2:28pm

2:26pm

Food donated by Helston's farmers' market has just arrived at the rest centre in the town's Epworth Hall: 

Falmouth Packet:

(Photo courtesy of @WRadfordGaby)

2:23pm

Senior beach lifeguard Sam Crowther (@sjcrowther2012) posted this picture of firefighters hard at work trying to clear the flood waters in Helston.

Falmouth Packet:

You can see more of his pictures on tumblr.

2:16pm

The Environment Agency has now issued a flood warning for the River Cober from Wendron to Lowertown (including Wendron, Coverack Bridges, Trannack Mill Industrial Estate and the old Lowertown Methodist Church).

A severe flood warning is still in place for the section of the river that runs through Helston.

2:12pm

A video of the Helston floods and interview with house owner Jerry Williams, who says it's a "desperate situation" for the people who live there (via @KernowPods)

2:07pm

2:05pm

2:00pm

1:58pm

Helston aid charity ShelterBox has called in a response team to help those affected by the flooding in its home town. 

1:57pm

This garden in the St John's area of Helston has been completely submerged (via @WRadfordGaby)

Falmouth Packet:

1:56pm

Update from Cornwall Fire Control - 23 fire engines in Cornwall at incidents and all available officers, with an additional high volume pump for Helston requested

1:52pm

1:52pm

 

1:49pm

Firefighters at work clearing the flood waters from outside the Helston Lidl. (Courtesy of @WRadfordGaby)

Falmouth Packet:

1:45pm

Helston mayoress Wendy Radford-Gaby took this picture of the flood level gauge in the River Cober earlier this afternoon.

Water appears to be running at the eight foot mark.

Falmouth Packet:

1:43pm

Helston-based disaster relief charity ShelterBox are providing blankets for those residents who have been evacuated to the re-opened rest centre at Epworth Hall. 

1:37pm

1:35pm

1:33pm

The Met Office amber weather warning for Cornwall is in place until late on Christmas Eve.

"Given that the ground is already saturated, the public should be prepared for the risk of localised flooding from both rivers and surface water," the chief forecaster said.

"This could well lead to disruption to travel, with a low likelihood of severe disruption."

Read more on the Met Office's website by clicking here.

Falmouth Packet:

1:28pm

1:27pm

Firefighters are reported to be pumping as much as 8,000 litres of water a minute from the St John's area.

1:25pm

Firefighters try to save a house in St Johns Road, Helston from flooding:Falmouth Packet:

Photo courtesy of Kathy White.

1:24pm

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service are reporting a "high volume of calls to flooding related incidents across Cornwall."

Their response is "being proritised based on life risk," according to a spokeswoman.

1:22pm

Cornwall Fire and Rescue service is reported to be bringing in a second high volume pump to the county, which is due to arrive from Avon within the next three hours.

1:21pm

1:19pm

1:19pm

1:16pm

The Epworth Hall has been set up as a rescue centre for people forced to leave their homes due to flooding.

Around 200 residents were advised to leave their homes at 3am today, but most chose to stay and sit it out. The situation may change in the coming hours, however, as rain continues to fall. 

1:16pm

Helston resident Stina Nicholson took this picture of St John's Road about half an hour ago:

Falmouth Packet:

1:14pm

The Environment Agency already has three pumps working to clear water from Loe Pool and is reported to be bringing in three more pumps this afternoon. 

1:11pm

Flooding in Helston is reportedly getting worse, as heavy rain continues to batter the town - causing water levels to rise further.

1:08pm

SATURDAY

Cornwall Council has posted advice to people whose homes are being affected by flooding:

• Turn off the electricity supply at the mains, if you can do so safely.

• Get out of the water - move family and pets upstairs or to higher ground.

• Make sure all electrical circuits are fully dried out and checked by an electrical engineer after the flood, before switching back on.

• Do not attempt to turn off the electricity supply while standing in water.
 

For more information visit www.cornwall.gov.uk

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