ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson attacked the insurance industry today for causing flood victims “alarm” after 200,000 householders were warned they could lose their home cover.
As heavy rain and wind left a trail of destruction across Britain, Government and insurers clashed about how future flooding bills would be covered.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said talks about a “safety net” deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at “crisis point”.
It also challenged a claim made by Downing Street that the Government put a new proposal to the ABI last week.
Mr Paterson refused to be drawn on whether alternative plans were on the table and criticised insurance chiefs for airing their concerns at the height of the crisis.
Warnings of major disruption from flooding in Yorkshire remain in force as rain continued to bring chaos to the region.
Forecasters said there were particular concerns parts of North Yorkshire north of York towards the coast and Teesside could be most at risk from persistent and heavy downpours. Rainfall will take up to 48 hours to work its way through river systems.
Fire crews attended dozens of incidents in North and East Yorkshire as floods inundated homes and motorists got into difficulties. Two people trapped on a river bank near Stokesley were rescued and taken to hospital with hypothermia.
There are currently 17 flood warnings, and 37 flood alerts in place for Yorkshire and the North East, mainly concentrated in North Yorkshire and County Durham.
The main affected areas in York are:
• The River Ouse and the River Foss in York.
• The River Tutt at Boroughbridge.
• The River Swale at Myton-on-Swale.
• The River Wiske at Kirby Wiske.
• Willow Beck at Northallerton.
There is also a flood alert for the River Leven.
In North Yorkshire, one lane of the A1 remains closed, with queueing traffic northbound between Catterick and Scotch Corner in Middleton Tyas. Congestion is to the A1(M) J51 junction.
The A66 in Ravensworth is closed with slow traffic around the B6274 junction. The A6108 Richmond Road in Skeeby closed in both directions between the Springfield junction and Scotch Corner
There is flooding in the Selby area, but the A19 at Chapel Haddlesey and the B1222 at Cawood Bridge are open as normal. There is localised flooding in Saxton but the roads are passable with care. Roads in and around Appleton Roebuck also remain open despite some standing water.
In York, the following roads are closed: Huntington Road at Iron Bridge, Terry Avenue off Clementhorpe, King Street and Cumberland Street, Queens Staith and Skeldergate. Roads in Bishopthorpe, Askham Bryan, Askham Richard, Naburn and Copmanthorpe are passable with care. The road between Tollerton and Shipton is impassable.
In Scarborough and Ryedale, the following roads are closed: Scalby Road near the hospital, the Coastal Road is flooded southbound. Buttercrambe and back road to Stamford Bridge are closed. Back roads to Salton and Brawby are passable only with a 4x4. The A64 at East Knapton is flooded but passable with care. There are no road closures in Whitby.
In Hambleton and Richmondshire, there is heavy flooding on the A19 southbound carriageway at Knayton near Thirsk which has forced the closure of lane 1. The A64 at Brompton is flooded but is passable with care at Constable Burton. The B6274 at Gilling West towards the A66 is closed. Dalton village is flooded but passable with care. Dayton village is closed.
In Harrogate and Ripon, the road between Bishop Monkton and Roecliffe is passable with care. The B6161 at Leathley is flooded. The road between Bishop Monkton and Ripon is passable with care.
In West Yorkshire the A659 Pool Road in Otley is closed between East Busk Lane and the A658 junction. There are reports of a car being stranded.
Rain has continued to fall across the region overnight, causing river levels to rise. Forecasters are expecting a band of rain to sit across the region from York to Durham for much of the day.
The Environment Agency was urging people to take care on their commute into work, as roads could be flooded.
Although the rain has not been as intense as expected, rivers are likely to continue rising throughout the day, as rainwater runs off already saturated ground.
Phil Younge, Flood Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We are expecting more rain throughout Monday, and are urging people to remain vigilant, and check their risk of flooding.
“Our teams have been out around the clock over the last few days to minimise the risks and prepare for flooding. We are continuing to deploy teams across the country to warn communities at risk.”
Last night an Agency spokesman said: “It is the next 24-48 hours that we are concerned about. The impact of rainfall on saturated ground is likely to be significant.
“Apart from potential flooding from water courses, large amounts of surface water on roads will make travelling potentially difficult especially on some minor roads.”
The South West and Midlands were worst hit by flooding yesterday. A woman died after she was crushed by a falling tree in Exeter.
There was criticism of Prime Minister David Cameron after he promised the Government would “ensure everything is being done to help” those affected by the latest flooding. Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said people in flood-hit communities in Yorkshire were still waiting for help Mr Cameron promised in June.
“Councils are facing multi-million pound clear up costs for damage to roads and schools which are not covered by the Government’s Bellwin scheme,” the Wakefield MP said. “How can anyone have faith in what the Prime Minister says when his words are not matched with action?”