LONDON — Widespread flooding across northern Britain has turned streets into raging torrents, forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and destroyed many historic buildings including a bridge dating back to 1700.
A devastating storm on Wednesday packed winds gusting up to 70mph and brought heavy rain to areas already struggling to cope with their wettest month on record.
Power outages and road closures were widespread across the worst-affected areas of northern England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the small northern England town of Tadcaster, an early 18th Century stone bridge - some seven decades older than the United States - collapsed under the pressure of the swollen River Wharfe running beneath it.
The Cambus O' May suspension footbridge, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, was also badly damaged in the floodwaters.
British Army soldiers have been drafted in to rebuild flood defenses. A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter was deployed to dump more than 2,000 pounds of sandbags into a breach in the River Douglas near the town of Croston in northeast England.
Around 20,000 homes and businesses were without power in Northern Ireland overnight but all but 500 were restored by Wednesday, the BBC reported. Some 6,000 customers have lost power in Scotland.
England's Environment Agency said saturated ground could lead to more flooding in northwestern areas late Wednesday.
More showers were forecast across Britain throughout the rest of the week.