Britain braces for more floods

2014-02-16 08:54
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 - Sodden communities along the River Thames braced for more floods on Sunday, as Britain counted the cost of a storm that claimed several lives and left tens of thousands of homes without power.

At least three people were killed in separate incidents in Ireland, Britain and the English Channel after violent winds and heavy rain swept in from the Atlantic on Friday.

Pulling down power lines and disrupting transport networks across the region, the storm brought fresh misery to flood-hit communities in Britain, parts of which are suffering their wettest start to the year for 250 years.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Saturday that the worst was not yet over as he visited the Thames-side village of Chertsey, west of London, to see how the military were helping bolster flood defences.

"What we do in the next 24 hours is vital because tragically the river levels will rise again. So every sand bag delivered, every house helped, every flood barrier put in place can make a big difference," Cameron said.

More than 3 000 members of the military are involved in the flood relief effort, according to the defence ministry, as the government seeks to counter criticism that it was too slow to respond to the crisis.

Fourteen severe flood alerts warning of a risk to life were in place along the River Thames on Saturday night, with another two issued for the southwest of England, which has borne the brunt of two months of heavy rain.

In a newspaper interview published on Sunday, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband blamed climate change for the run of bad weather, and urged government ministers to treat global warming as a "national security issue".

Cameron said last month that "I very much suspect" there is a link but said that either way, there should be more investment in flood defences.

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