Battered Britain faces new winter storm

2014-02-14 11:29
A house submerged in water in Runnymede, south-west of London. (Ben Stansall, AFP)

A house submerged in water in Runnymede, south-west of London. (Ben Stansall, AFP)

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London - Yet another Atlantic storm was barrelling towards Britain on Friday, threatening to dump a month's worth of rainfall on communities already struggling to cope with the wettest winter for 250 years.

The country's Met Office said a "multi-pronged attack" of wind, rain and snow would sweep across the country after making landfall in southwest England early on Friday.

The heavy rain could lead to another 1 000 houses being evacuated, the Environment Agency told the Daily Telegraph, with downpours of up to 40mm forecast to fall in just six hours.

The agency warned of huge waves on England's south coast as high tides combine with 128km/h winds.

The storm comes two days after hurricane-force gales tore through the country leaving one person dead and tens of thousands without power.

The swollen River Thames was expected to reach its highest level for 60 years at the weekend, promising fresh misery for flooded towns west of London where the military is providing relief.

EU aid

Energy companies on Thursday worked to get power back to more than 56 000 people still left without electricity, having restored supplies to more than 400 000 hit by outages during Wednesday's storm.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he would seek financial aid from the European Union to cope with the floods, despite his promises to renegotiate London's relationship with Brussels and hold a referendum.

"There is assistance that we are seeking from the EU," he said. "Some of the money I'm making available for Britain's farmers comes out of an EU budget."

Cameron said he was also seeking "expertise" from other EU nations, including "Dutch experts on pumping and dealing with flood defences".

His government has faced criticism for being slow to help people in flood-hit areas.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg later announced a $416 000 fund to advise those hit by the floods.

Gusts approaching 160km/h tore at parts of England and Wales overnight on Wednesday.

One man died after being electrocuted while attempting to move a fallen tree that had brought down power lines in Wiltshire, southwest England, the first to be killed in the latest round of storms.

The floods were also spreading, as water filled the historic crypt of Winchester Cathedral in the southern county of Hampshire.

Authorities also issued a new severe flood alert, the highest category indicating danger to life, for the River Severn in western England, bringing the total across the country to 17. There are another 14 in Berkshire and Surrey to the west of London and two in the southwestern county of Somerset.

More than 5 800 properties have flooded since early December, officials said.

Emergency efforts were picking up following criticism of a sluggish response, and the military said 1 600 soldiers had been deployed with 2 000 in total available.

Train operator Network Rail said teams armed with chainsaws and pumps were on stand-by to deal with Friday's forecasted storm.

Read more on:    eu  |  david cameron  |  uk  |  weather
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