Residents and businesses wake up to devastation in Lancaster

Susan Millward sent this photo of firemen giving her children a ride whilst evacuating the flats on lower St Georges Quay on Sunday.
Susan Millward sent this photo of firemen giving her children a ride whilst evacuating the flats on lower St Georges Quay on Sunday.

Fire crews from across the North West worked around the clock to rescue people stuck in floodwater in Lancaster over the weekend.

Around 150 firefighters were involved in rescue operations across the district, attending 250 incidents as a result of about 450 calls for help over a 48 hour period.

They attended a chemical leak, five people trapped on a roof, people stuck in first floor rooms in the city centre, house fires and vehicle rescues.

The floods have devastated Lancaster City Centre as many businesses face closure until at least after Christmas.

There are still some businesses in the city trading today, Monday December 7, however many are facing thousands of pounds worth of damaged to goods and premises.

Fire crews are now on standby for more bad weather and potential flooding as the Environment Agency has issued four flood warnings for the Halton and Skerton areas.

Receding floodwater at Church Brow in Halton

Receding floodwater at Church Brow in Halton

There are now just 30 homes without power after thousands of people were left without electricity for around 30 hours.

Much of the action over the weekend centred around the Caton Road and Cable Street areas of Lancaster City Centre, where Lancaster fire station is located.

The fire station itself was flooded, and firefighters finished gruelling 12-14 hours shifts only to find their cars submerged under water.

Firefighting equipment and vehicles were moved to a temporarary base at Forton Services.

Richard Edney, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters fought in vain to keep floodwater out of the electricity substation in Caton Road.

He said: “High volume pumps capable of pumping thousands of litres of water a minute were used to keep the water away from the substation, but in the end there was more water coming in than we could pump out.

“We attended a serious road traffic collision in Halton, and some house fires as well, with thankfully no injuries.

“We also helped out North West Ambulance Service by transporting patients to hospital for them from hard to reach places.”

It is thought that the river Lune experienced a once in a thousand year event, with water flowing at 2,000m3 a second at peak times as a result of Storm Desmond.

Mr Edney said: “On Sunday morning there was a chemical leak at Caton Road Business Park caused by flood water.

“Four fire engines attended and managed to secure the area and contain the chemical.

“We rescued five people who had become stuck on a roof at Lansil Industrial Estate.

“There was a house fire that was started by a candle in Aldcliffe Road, and even up until Sunday night, we were receiving calls from people asking us to pump water out of their basements.

“In many cases there was just nowhere to pump the water to.”

The Robert Gillow pub in the city acted as a base for people to take refuge after being rescued or evacuated from properties in the city.

Monday morning saw business owners return to their premises to find floodwater damage.

“We had about 30 calls from businesses in Lancaster and we went out to help them get back on their feet.

“Areas around the bus station were the worst hit.”

Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls, the council housing office at Cable Street and Salt Ayre Sports Centre will remain closed until further notice.

Council services are being diverted towards dealing with the clean-up and recovery but further updates will be posted on the council’s website and via Twitter and Facebook as and when more information becomes available.

An enquiry line - 01524 582093 - has been set up for anyone who has an urgent query.

Members of the public are asked to leave any non-urgent enquiries until later in the week.

A spokesman for Lancaster City Council said: “We ask residents to bear with us during this time as we deal with the recovery effort.

“If you know of elderly and/or vulnerable people who have been affected by either the flooding or power outage, please take a couple of minutes to check on them. If you feel that there is a risk to life, please call 999. If there isn’t a risk to their life but you are worried about them being left in the property, please call 101 and log their information with the Police.

If you are affected by loss of power, please take care if you are lighting candles in your home. Keep them away from curtains and place on a hard surface. Don’t walk around holding a candle – you may drop them and start a fire.”

Bin collections are up and running as normal.

Were you stuck in floodwater in Lancaster? We’d love to hear from you. Email or call 01524 385931.