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Floods bring Darwen buildings to the brink of collapse
8:57am Saturday 7th July 2012 in News
TOWN centre buildings were brought to the brink of collapse after heavy rain and floods battered East Lancashire again.
Businesses had to be evacuated yesterday amid concerns that heavy flooding might cause a building to collapse.
A barber shop and a solicitors were among two of those advised to leave their premises by police after a culvert caved in at the back of the row of terraces, in Knott Street, Darwen.
Holes appeared in the cobbled street beneath a former dressmakers shop, sparking fears about its foundations.
Last night Knott Street remained closed and parts of the terrace were being propped up by temporary wooden supports.
As the heavy rains began yesterday morning the road was closed off and drivers were advised to remove their cars from the Knott Street car park as a precautionary measure.
Police, fire and ambulance crews were on standby at the scene with officers from Blackburn with Darwen Council, who arrived to assess the risk of the building collapsing.
Building control staff used an aerial ladder platform to survey the structural damage.
They also used the platform to assess how deep the hole was because the road was too unstable to work on.
Firefighters warned that another heavy downpour would create serious problems.
Hyndburn Fire Station manager Tim Murrell, said: “We were called by building control to say that the property has been undermined by the flooding.
“There is a decent sized hole here and we are worried about it collapsing.
“We were standing by in case it does collapse and we also have an aerial ladder platform to survey and then we will decide from there. We may look at some sort of structured demolition.”
Jamil Ahmed, owner of JD Barber Shop, in Railway Road, which backs on to Knott Street, was told by police at 11am to evacuate his shop which is next to the property.
He said: “The police told me to shut the doors and that I was in danger.
“I don’t know how long I will be shut for. It’s terrifying.”
There was a customer having his hair cut at the time.
Donald Forbes, who owns the flat above the at-risk shop, said it was very upsetting to see this happen to his property.
He said: “It is really worrying, I don’t know what we are going to do.
“I was warned it was not safe and anybody could fall down. It is terrifying to see this happen.”
Elton Ashworth, partner at Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors said: “The police told us that it was unsafe and there was a chance it might collapse.”
A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “The building has been sured up for now and further investigation is underway.
“If it does have to be demolished, it will be a joint decision between us and the fire service.”
Flooding also hit in other parts of Darwen and the council handed out 2,700 sandbags to worried residents.
Steven Harrison, who lives in Green Bank Terrace, said: “It has been horrible and I just hope it doesn’t carry on anymore. This is the second time we have been hit.”
Parts of the Ribble Valley were also on high alert after more heavy downpours.
Simonstone Lane, which leads into Read was flooded and Waddington Road, on the way into Clitheroe, was also impassable as the ground became saturated and drains struggled to cope with the excess amount of water.
Lisa Swift, who lives in Settle Road, Clitheroe, said she saw the River Ribble raging past the back of her house on Thursday evening after a heavy downpour.
Lisa, 50, who works as a cook at Nelson Fire Station said: “There’s a stream at the end of my garden. The water came up over the wall and into the garden after a heavy downpour at around 7.30pm.
“My husband and I were sat there and we heard the river raging behind the house. It flooded and came about 10ft closer to the house.
“There was no point the fire crews coming out because there was no where to pump the water.
“If it had carried on raining, it would have flooded the house.”