Freak flooding causes chaos in Cornwall

A freak flash flood has devastated a small town in the north of Cornwall after the equivalent of two months' rainfall came down in just two hours.

Many cars and houses in Boscastle were washed away by the torrential downpour, which reached speeds of 40 miles per hour as it raced through the town. The river rose by seven feet in one hour, and seven aircraft had to be used to rescue people stranded on the roofs of buildings, in trees and in cars.

Michael Mulford, spokesman for RAF Kinloss, which ran the rescue operation, said that around 1,000 people had to be rescued and evacuated: "This is the biggest combined incident we have seen in many years. It is very seldom that we have more than two helicopters at one scene. To have seven is remarkable."

Friends of the Earth (FoE) issued a warning following the flooding in Cornwall and heavy rain throughout the rest of the country, saying that the unpredictable weather conditions were a direct result of climate change and a little taster of more extreme weather events to come.

"These freak storms are unusual events, but there are real concerns that they could become more frequent as we feel the effects of climate change," said executive director of FoE, Tony Juniper. "We must now face the harsh reality of what we are doing to our planet and act now to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide."

However, spokesman for the MET Office, Wayne Elliot, told edie that he did not believe the floods were influenced by climate change: "Records of storms of this kind go back four or five hundred years in the UK. It was severe, but it must not be taken out of context. If this kind of weather suddenly occurred in towns throughout Cornwall then it would obviously be a major cause for concern, but this one freak flood alone cannot be taken as a sign of global warming."

Scientists have predicted that global warming will trigger more so-called extreme weather events around the world, leading to more hot days, heatwaves, heavy rain and storms.

The freak flash flooding in Cornwall comes just three days after the US was hit by hurricane Charley, where winds of 145 miles per hour ravished southwest Florida and claimed the lives of at least 16 people, while leaving thousands of others homeless.

Flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency (EA) still remain in place and the EA's flood defence emergency workforce has assisted local emergency services in the clean-up operation.

Leader of Cornwall County Council, John Lobb, stated: "This is a major incident which has caused widespread devastation in North Cornwall."

By Jane Kettle



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