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Flood warnings remain across most of UK as MPs quiz Environment Agency chiefs

22Flood warnings remained in place across almost all parts of Britain on Wednesday, with the north-east of England worst hit overnight.
Torrential rain flooded out residents on one Newcastle estate for the sixth time in less than a decade, while police divers in Aberdeen joined the search for a missing camper thought to have been caught up in the floods that swept Aberdeenshire.
Hazel McGowan, a retired hairdresser and publican living in Lemington, west of Newcastle city centre described her ordeal as a nightmare. She had spent £7,000 on basic flood defences for her home in Nile Close, but as rain hammered the region, water ran into the ground floor of the house. She said fears of further flooding left her unable sleep for two days. “It is scary,” she said. “Well, it’s even worse when it’s dark. At least in the day, now I can see it.

“It’s been flooded six times, but I was frightened to claim any more, in case the insurance company wouldn’t insure us at all.”
Firefighters helped residents to lift belongings clear of the floor in an attempt to reduce flood damage, and Newcastle city council had water pumps and sandbags on standby.
The weather caused chaos across Tyneside with road closures and delays affecting motorists.
In Newcastle city centre, a popular burger bar, the Fat Hippo Underground, in Shakespeare Street, was forced to close due to floodwater. South Tyneside council asked drivers to take care because of the large amount of standing water across the borough.
Twenty-five flood warnings remain in place for the north-east of England. The Environment Agency says flooding is expected near the river Coquet in Warkworth, Brinkburn and Felton, Northumberland, and in areas in and around York near the river Ouse and Derwent.
On Tuesday, more than 20 schoolchildren had to be rescued after their bus got stuck and began to fill with water when the driver allegedly went through a “road closed” sign just north of York.
A major route in North Yorkshire has been closed owing to fears of a landslip following days of heavy rain. The A59 Harrogate to Skipton road has been shut at Kex Gill after engineers confirmed there had been significant movements on the surrounding hillside and cracks had appeared on the slope, North Yorkshire county council said.
The route was famous for a short time in 2014 when it provided some of the most memorable images on the second day of the Tour de France. Huge crowds had gathered on what was named the Cote de Blubberhouses.
The number of flood warnings in place across Scotland had reduced to 25 on Wednesday morning, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency said.
With the persistent heavy rain that has battered the north-east of the country easing overnight, Aberdeenshire, one of the areas worst affected by last week’s storms and the subsequent flooding, was finally able to switch from emergency response to recovery mode. In the devastated village of Ballater, children were returning to school after the festive break, and the local council pledged to find temporary accommodation for those families unable to return to their sodden homes by Thursday.

Council workers try to pump water from the lower streets of Aboyne after more heavy rain. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Getty
A 150-tonne boulder, which forced the closure of the road through the Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll, was set to be dislodged by explosives later on Wednesday.
Police have renewed their appeal for information about a missing camper after two bags containing his belongings were washed up near Bridge of Dee, in Aberdeenshire, on Saturday. Terence Kilbride, 48, originally from Warrington, is thought to have been camping in the area and was reported missing on Monday.
Environment Agency chiefs are to be questioned by MPs on Wednesday afternoon about the recent flooding. The agency’s chairman, Sir Philip Dilley, who faced criticism for holidaying in Barbados during the recent storms, will join the chief executive, Sir James Bevan, and the deputy chief executive, David Rooke, before the parliamentary environment, food and rural affairs committee.
MPs on the committee will also hear evidence from local representatives from Cumbria, parts of which have been badly hit by repeated flooding.
On Tuesday, the environment secretary, Liz Truss, told MPs that about 16,000 houses in England were flooded when storms Desmond and Eva hit.
December was the wettest month in records stretching back more than a hundred years for the UK, with almost double the normal amount of rainfall falling nationwide. Homes and businesses were flooded and cars, roads and bridges were washed away.