Britain deployed army personnel, rubber dinghies and a military helicopter on Sunday to rescue people trapped by floods that have deluged parts of the country in the wake of Storm Desmond.
Thousands of homes and business were affected by the heavy rains and strong winds that battered Britain over the weekend, with one death reported in London after a man was blown into the path of a bus, police said.
“The army has been mobilised to help those affected by Storm Desmond and floods. A COBRA meeting is happening to ensure everything is done,” Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, referring to the government’s emergency response committee.
In northwest England, towns and villages were flooded, with the water reaching waist height in some places.
Some residents trudged through the waters carrying their possessions, including pets, while others were helped onto dinghies and even a canoe crewed by volunteers.
Many elderly flood victims waited on the second floor of their homes and leaned out of their windows as they waited for help.
In Cumbria, northwest England, the torrents caused the historic Pooley Bridge to collapse, and police said two others had also been “washed away”.
By Sunday evening Britain’s Environment Agency website still carried flood warnings for more than 130 areas, mostly in the northwest, including 48 warnings of “severe” floods that could pose a threat to life.
“There remains a risk of further flooding in some areas and the Environment Agency continues to warn communities in northern England to be prepared today and tomorrow,” said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
She said data from a rain gauge in Honister, Cumbria, suggested a record amount of rain had fallen in the area between Friday and Saturday.
Desmond is the fourth named storm to hit Britain in recent months.