Forecasters predicted more rain for England’s flood-ravaged northwest region Saturday, but said the risk of more flooding was smaller than in recent days and river levels were dropping.
The badly hit town of Cockermouth was starting to dry out after the two rivers it sits on raged through its streets Thursday night and Friday morning. The Rivers Cocker and Derwent reached several feet high in some places, causing furniture on the ground floor to knock into the ceiling, witnesses said.
Business owners were being allowed back into parts of the town Saturday, but water was still standing in the center of town. A group of white geese stood at the water’s edge in the middle of the main street, seemingly enjoying the brief sunshine and respite from rain.
The rivers still flowed rapidly through the town Saturday, the brown water barely making it under the supporting arches of the bridges.
A total of 12 bridges were closed across the county of Cumbria, where Cockermouth is located, because of safety fears, Cumbria police said.
One person died in the floods. Cumbria Police Constable Bill Barker was directing drivers off a bridge in the town of Workington when the flood waters destroyed the bridge and washed him away.
Praise for Barker poured in Saturday.
“Bill is a hero who died saving the lives of others,” said Cumbria Police Chief Constable Craig Mackey, according to Britain’s Press Association.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Barker was “a very heroic, very brave man.”
Barker’s widow, Hazel, said he was her best friend and an “amazing dad” to their four children.
“I have the comfort of knowing that Bill died doing the job he loved, and the fact that he was helping others is just typical Bill,” the Press Association quoted her as saying.
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