The iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol was closed for only the second time in its 151-year history as a succession of storms named Desmond, Eva and Frank lashed parts of the United Kingdom, dampening spirits and plans to ring in the New Year.
December witnessed unprecedented rains mainly in north and northwest England and Scotland. Officials cut short holidays to deal with the situation that attracted much flak from residents for the lack of flood defences in several areas.
The latest storm, Frank, from Tuesday sparked several “severe” flood warnings in England and Wales, while areas battered by previous storms continued to grapple with new lashings as residents prepared to clean up earlier damage.
Over 5,000 homes in Scotland and Northern Ireland were left without electricity, while soldiers were deployed to evacuate homes after a bridge collapsed in Tadcaster, north Yorkshire. The news media provided blanket coverage of the floods and impact of the storms.
There were reports of flooded homes being looted in York, where police said it was “extremely disappointing” that thieves had broken into homes. North Yorkshire Police’s Mark Grange said: “It is impossible to comprehend why anyone would want to bring further suffering to those who are already in a very vulnerable situation.”
Facing much criticism for holidaying in Barbados, Environment Agency head Philip Dilley returned and said he had been “in very close contact” with senior agency staff throughout his Christmas break.
He said: “Everybody can’t be everywhere at the same time. I think we’ve been very effective and efficient in what we’ve been doing. There’s obviously some lessons to learn.”