Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey blames rain coming from 'wrong direction' for Storm Babet floods that devastated Chesterfield and Derbyshire and claimed life of elderly woman

The floods that devastated homes and businesses across Chesterfield and Derbyshire and led to a grandmother’s death were blamed on rain coming from the wrong direction by the Environment Secretary.
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Chesterfield and Derbyshire were battered by Storm Babet last week – with severe flooding occurring across the county.

Maureen Gilbert, 83, was found dead by her son and grandson on Saturday in Chesterfield after they became concerned when her street, Tapton Terrace, had flooded.

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Thérèse Coffey MP, the Government’s Environment Secretary, has since suggested that the direction the rain had come from had increased the impact of flooding.

Flooding In Chesterfield. Image:  Derbyshire TimesFlooding In Chesterfield. Image:  Derbyshire Times
Flooding In Chesterfield. Image: Derbyshire Times

She told a Commons Environment Committee yesterday: “One of the things that happened particularly with Storm Babet is that we are very good, with the Met Office and the Environment Agency’s flood forecasting [centre], at predicting weather normally because most of our rain tends to come in from the west. We’ve got that pretty much down to a fine art.

“This was rain coming from the other way and we don’t have quite as much experience on that. Therefore, our accuracy of predicting where such heavy rain would fall was not to the same degree as if it had been.

“So the Environment Agency had moved assets from parts of the country more towards Yorkshire and the north-east and that way. But I’m conscious that there were still some places that felt they could have done with some more pumps.”

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At least seven people are thought to have died during Storm Babet across the country. Derbyshire County Council reported that around 1,700 homes were evacuated across the county and some 200 roads were closed.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, who visited flooded homes over the weekend and helped set up a flood victims appeal, said that more needs to be done to help the affected families now and in the future.

He said he would ask the Government to provide funds for people that have been hit by floods, and that he would press for an investigation to assess why Chesterfield had flooded again – and to determine what can be done to protect the town going forward.