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Boscastle flash flood forces early warning rethink

ENVIRONMENT AGENCY officials and weather forecasters were this week discussing ways to improve flood warnings in Cornwall after a wall of water devastated the village of Boscastle on Monday.

Agency officials are reviewing a project to refurbish a culvert carrying a river through the village following Monday's flash flood.

The Agency admitted that it had been unable to warn people of the imminent flood because it happened so quickly.

In all 60 people had to be evacuated, with some rescued by helicopter after becoming trapped in buildings.

'It was a very short and sharp downpour and we could only alert emergency services when we could see it happening in that area, ' said a Met Office spokesman.

'It was a very rare event as the high rainfall stopped over Boscastle and clashed with a high tide, ' said a Met Office spokesman.

The last major flood in Boscastle was in 1957.

An Agency spokeswoman said that it was working with the Met Office to resolve the 'difficulty of warning for extreme local flooding'.

More than the whole of August's expected 95mm rain fall hit the area between noon and 11pm on Monday.

Of this 75mm fell between midday and 2pm on Monday, forcing the banks of the River Valency, which runs through Boscastle, to burst.

As the flow gathered pace, it swept up cars from a car park and tore through the village.

The River Jordan, which runs in a culvert beneath the village also overflowed.

The Agency was due to refurbish the 110m long culvert next month, but a spokeswoman said that the scope of the scheme would have to be reviewed in the light of recent events.

The Jordan has flooded nearby homes for the past 50 years.

The £1M project involved filling scour holes, reinstating a constant gradient in the channel, and installing a new screen upstream to prevent large rocks entering the watercourse. The culvert width varies from 400mm to 1250mm and depth varies from 800mm to 1500mm.

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