Minister visits area hit by floods

Ealing Times: Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will visit the North East of England following the major flooding in the area Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will visit the North East of England following the major flooding in the area

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will visit the North East of England as home-owners, businesses and the insurance industry count the cost of a major clean-up operation after freak storms hit the country.

Hundreds of rail engineers are working to repair damaged tracks which disrupted services between England and Scotland.

The volume of rain that fell on Thursday submerged cars and flooded homes which were well away from rivers and streams.

Northern Powergrid said 2,450 customers in the North East were without electricity after lightning strikes damaged supply lines.

Claire Austin, a forecaster with the MeteoGroup, the weather arm of the Press Association, said the outlook for the weekend was sunshine and showers for most places, with no sign of a repeat of the intense storms.

"Next week is looking like more rain for most places," she said.

Retired school teacher Michael Ellis died on Thursday after he was swept away in floods in Shropshire.

His wife Judith described the 66-year-old as "a gentle, caring man" and the "most wonderful husband".

The Environment Agency said the period of April to June has been the wettest since records began.

The Tyne and Wear Metro network is running a reduced train service, with replacement buses operating between some stations.

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