Northwest England Sees Record Flooding

LONDON, Nov. 20 (UPI) — Record rain and flooding in northwest England killed a police officer Friday when a bridge collapsed beneath him as he directed drivers away from it.

Bill Barker’s body was found hours later about 10 miles from the Northside Bridge in Workington, The Independent reported. Barker, who had been with the Cumbria police for 25 years, would have celebrated his 45th birthday Saturday.

Meteorologists said the Lake District, an area of mountains, hills and fast-flowing rivers, got just over a foot of rain between Thursday morning and Friday morning. The area was hit by devastating floods in 2005, but officials said Friday’s flooding was even worse.

Cockermouth, an old market town on the northwest edge of the Lake District where two rivers come together, was hit especially hard.

“It’s going to take the town years to recover from this,” Pete Marston, a resident of Cockermouth, said.

The rainfall, 12.3 inches, was the largest amount ever recorded in Britain, breaking a 1955 record of 11 inches in Devon. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn called the storm a “one-in-1,000″ event and warning flood controls designed to cope with hundred-year storms would give way.

Four bridges collapsed and a number of main roads became impassable because of flooding. About 200 people had to be evacuated, including 50 taken out by helicopter.

Flooding was also reported in northwest Wales and southwest Scotland.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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