Fresh storms to lash flooded parts of UK

2014-02-12 22:01
A local resident walks in the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

A local resident walks in the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

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London - Flooded communities in Britain faced a fresh battering from storms and high winds on Wednesday as emergency efforts in stricken areas picked up following criticism of a sluggish response.

Fourteen severe flood warnings, indicating a danger to life were in place in Berkshire and Surrey to the west of London, while two remain in Somerset in southwest England.

The Met Office national weather service issued a red warning, the highest level of threat for "exceptionally strong winds" in western parts of Wales and some parts of northwest England later on Wednesday.

Heavy rain is also expected across the country.

More than 1 000 homes west of London along the River Thames have been flooded in the past week.

Waters were overflowing in Staines, just a few kilometres from London Heathrow Airport, one of the world's busiest air hubs.

Money no object

A handful of residents were evacuated from their homes in Staines and others desperately piled up sandbags at their front doors in an attempt to keep the waters at bay.

Around 1 700 homes in Datchet, an affluent village a short distance upstream, had to contend with losing electricity late on Tuesday.

While the Thames remained the focus of the flooding, the middle of Worcester in central England was also increasingly threatened by the rapidly rising River Severn.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired an early-morning meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee, as he attempted to get a grip on the growing crisis.

The prime minister cancelled a planned trip next week to Israel and the Palestinian Territories so that he can deal with the worsening situation.

Major General Patrick Sanders, who is co-ordinating the armed forces response, told the meeting that around 2 000 military personnel were involved in the clean-up operation.

More troops have also been drafted into Somerset, the rural county in southwest England that was the first to flood last month.

Cameron cautioned on Tuesday that "things may get worse before they get better".

At the Cobra meeting, he said: "I think one of the things we have got to make sure today is that all the local authorities who need help are clear that they can get help."

Cameron promised on Tuesday that money was no object in the effort to help flooded communities, which came as a surprise to many from a government that is cutting back public spending.

On Wednesday, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin warned: "I don't think it's a blank cheque."

"I think what the prime minister was making very clear is that we are going to use every resource of the government and money is not the issue while we are in this relief job [for] those communities that are affected", he told ITV.

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