UK weather: Army called in after flash floods wash away bridges and swamp homes amid downpours

Chris Baynes

Roads and bridges have been washed away and scores of homes and business have been flooded after storms wreaked havoc across a swathe of the UK.

The army have been drafted in to help deal with the damage after heavy rain lashed the north of England. Flood warnings and alerts remained in place on Wednesday.

Rescuers reported seeing sheds and oil tanks floating down roads as “100 or more” houses in the Yorkshire Dales were swamped the previous day.

Organisers of road cycling world championships in September look certain to be forced to change the route of the race after a bridge in Grinton Moor which forms part of the course was washed away.

A mountain biking festival has also been cancelled after its planned site was wrecked, while customers of an ice cream parlour were injured in a freak hailstorm.

Soldiers were sent to Grinton, North Yorkshire, after parts of the region was deluged by 82.2mm of rain in 24 hours on Tuesday.

Steve Clough, of Swaledale Mountain Rescue, said: “The roads were a raging torrent and there were sheds and household oil tanks floating down them.”

Mr Clough said his team spent more than eight hours searching properties in the area and rescued about 10 people. But he added North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) helped many others and estimated “100 or more” homes had been affected.

“Some homes had a metre of water in them – it was horrific,” he said.

One 75-year-old woman described how she almost drowned when her pub, the Red Lion Inn, in Langthwaite, North Yorkshire, was filled by 5ft-high water on Tuesday night.

Rowena Hutchinson in her pub, the Red Lion Inn, which was devastated by flooding in Langthwaite, North Yorkshire (PA)

Rowena Hutchinson said the water came gushing into the pub “like a waterfall”, leaving her submerged up to her chin.

Describing the torrential rain that ruined her home, she added: “It’s completely smashed doors off, and a wall has gone. The speed and force of the water was unbelievable, it’s just tossed the doors all over the place.”

The fire service said it received around 115 calls to flooding incidents in Leyburn and Reeth.

Pictures and videos on social media showed widespread flooding across the Swaledale area in the Yorkshire Dales. Roads resembled rivers, with many cars stranded, and fields were under water.

The Brymor Ice Cream parlour, near Masham, was caught in a freak hailstorm which left some customers with minor injuries.

The shop’s owners posted on Facebook: “Our parlour suffered damage to the roof, power failures and some visitors suffered minor injuries. Our team of staff acted as quickly and professionally as possible to ensure all our visitors were made safe.”

Ard Rock mountain biking festival, which had been due to take place in Swaledale next weekend, has been cancelled.

A flooded house in North Yorkshire, where more than 100 homes have been swamped (PA)

One of the organisers, Alex Rafferty, 32, said: “We expected some rain, we expected some stormy weather, but I think collectively in the valley here no one really expected what happened. It truly just came down off the hills in waterfalls, it blew the riverbanks and has damaged a huge amount of infrastructure, local houses and local businesses.”

The route of the prestigious UCI Road World Championships, which begins on 22 September, is also at threat after Grinton Moor Bridge collapsed. The bridge also featured in the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment have been carrying sandbags in the area in a bid to help the clean-up.

Raymond Caldert, a farmer, said: “I haven’t seen anything like this. We had a storm here about 20 years ago, called Hurricane Charlie. I think this has been worse. There’s quite a few bridges have gone.”

Train passengers also faced disruption after a landslip between Carlisle and Skipton.

Malham Tarn, in the Yorkshire Dales, received 82.2mm of rain in 24 hours, the majority in the space of four hours. The monthly average in the area for this time of year is 89mm.

The Met Office said storms could dump another 40mm of rain in two hours in some areas on Wednesday.

A yellow weather warning for rain has been issued for parts of central and northern England, including Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln, while an alert for thunderstorms is in place in Scotland.

There are 10 flood warnings in place across the UK in North Yorkshire, Lancashire and the West Midlands.

The Environment Agency said localised flooding was also possible due to thunderstorms and outbreaks of heavy rain.

Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts said: “The heavy showers will continue for a good few hours yet across the northern half of the UK.”

The showers are expected to ease by the end of Wednesday, leading into a dry night.

Further rain is due on Thursday but it is not expected to be as heavy, with no weather warnings currently in place.