Fury at government’s ‘pittance’ flood aid as UK faces a month’s rain in 24 hours
Residents in flood-hit areas have branded government aid of up to £500 a “pittance” as they come to terms with their devastating losses.
And Boris Johnson again came under fire for failing to visit stricken towns and villages, despite warnings of more heavy rain.
Even his own MPs complained at how long it has taken for people left with nothing to get the emergency cash.
It took officials nine days to trigger the grants to help victims of killer storms Dennis and Ciara.
But Rob Kane, whose home in Ironbridge, Shrops, was filled with floodwater, said of the £500: “That will pay for the disinfectant, thanks. It’s laughable really. It’s nothing.”
Neighbour Vic Haddock told how he had just finished converting a boathouse in the World Heritage Site into a holiday home when it was left deluged by Dennis.
He said of the grant: “It’s a pittance. What’s that going to do? There’s £500 worth of damage in the freezer and the fridges alone. We’ve got nothing, we can’t even use the toilets.
“It’s now completely destroyed. It’s waist deep in water. It took 18 months to renovate and our life savings.
“We’ve had no help from the local council, the councillors, World Heritage, Conservation Area, nobody. We’re like a little leper colony down here.”
The distraught 60-year-old challenged Mr Johnson to face flood victims, just weeks after the PM promised to repay those who voted him by switching sides from Labour to the Tories.
Vic, who runs a canoe business, added: “Now I’ve supported him. Come on Boris come and support me. Come and see…and we’ll have a chat about this.”
Jeremy Corbyn, who is today due to visit flooded communities in South Wales, laid into Mr Johnson over his no show and refusal to call a Cobra meeting.
The Labour leader said: “In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence.
“Failing to convene Cobra to support flood-hit communities sends a clear message… if the Prime Minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election he simply does not care about helping those affected by flooding.
“The Government’s response has been wholly inadequate and fails to grasp the scale of this crisis.”
Tory MP Craig Whittaker, whose Calder Valley constituency in West Yorkshire was hit, said he was “furious” that the PM had dragged his heels over the emergency aid, offered to each affected household.
He said: “It’s nine days since the floods and I’ve been hammering on doors in Whitehall every day since, trying to get this funding triggered.”
When colleague Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest in Worcestershire, was asked if cash should have been released earlier, he replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
The funding was activated in West Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
Other measures include Council Tax relief, business rate relief and grants of up to £5,000 to help buildings become more resilient to future flooding.
It is feared Storm Dennis has claimed its sixth victim, after a major search continued for Jean Disney, 87, who may have fallen into River Exe near her home town of Tiverton, Devon.
Dennis and Ciara affected around 2,600 properties. They may have passed, but areas still cleaning up from the damage are bracing themselves for more torrential rain. Four inches are expected to fall in 24 hours, the average for the whole of February.
The Environment Agency officials are warning of more “significant flooding”. Pontypridd and Monmouth in South Wales are expected to be worst hit, with major incidents declared.
Authorities have urged residents in Ironbridge, Shropshire and Monmouth to leave for their own safety. Blackpool and Lancaster could also suffer.
Six severe flood warnings remained in place for the River Severn, the Wye and the Lugg. Upton-on-Severn was last night still under water.
Other damaged towns included Tewkesbury, Glos, and York. Deer were seen swimming in floodwater around the historic city trying to reach high ground.
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