WIDESPREAD flooding in South Lakeland and Cumbria has ‘increased the urgency’ of the flood defence works scheduled for Kendal, say campaigners.

Heavy rainfall earlier in the week brought a host of road closures and multiple reports of vehicles being stranded by deep water.

Residents of Appleby-in-Westmorland woke up to find their town partially submerged on Monday morning after more than three metres of water rushed through the town overnight.

And community leaders and campaigners reiterated the importance of having work begin on the £72m flood defence works for Kendal and Burneside in the wake of the recent problems.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I’m very wary that this is the second time this year that our community has been inches away from homes being flooded.

“We really need to see the Environment Agency crack on with getting the flood defence scheme in place to protect local people.

“This is a really difficult time for us all, and the last thing we need is for people’s homes and businesses to be flooded out and the heartbreak that would come with it.”

Last month, The Westmorland Gazette reported that the long-awaited flood scheme could face further delays due to an application from the Open Spaces Society to have part of the River Kent’s riverbed classed as common land.

Leone Edwards, who lives on Kendal’s Sandylands estate, said a property at the top of the estate suffered flooding in its garden this week, although the house escaped without damage.

Sandylands is set to benefit from a protection scheme in stage three of the flood defence project.

Mrs Edwards, chair of the North East Kendal Flood Action Group, described the impact of Storm Desmond in 2015 as ‘devastating’.

“Once everybody had moved out, because we weren’t flooded, it was almost surreal,” she said.

“There was nobody about, it was so quiet and desolate out there, because people had been moved out of their properties, and we were sort of left behind with nobody else round.

“The worst (losses) for people were the personal items, like photographs, memories, ornaments.

“It was little stuff that you couldn’t replace.”

She said the flood defence scheme should go ahead ‘as soon as possible’, warning the town could otherwise be faced with ‘another Storm Desmond or worse’ in terms of impact.

Mrs Edwards’ husband, town councillor Adam Edwards, felt flooding events were becoming more frequent and the weather was changing ‘dramatically’.

“I think it really does highlight the need to progress these flood defences as quickly as we possibly, humanly can,” he said.

Maggie Mason, who was chair of the flood action group before Mrs Edwards, said the recent weather had ‘increased the urgency’ of the flood defence works.

“These high-intensity rainfall events are going to happen more frequently because of climate change,” she said.

Mrs Mason said all of the towns in Cumbria that were along rivers needed flood defence work doing.