British royals join flood relief efforts as new storm hits

2014-02-15 11:40

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London – Princes William and Harry joined around 2 000 members of the armed forces building flood defences, as fresh storms battered flood-weary Britain.

The brothers were spotted yesterday helping residents of the badly affected town of Datchet, near London, protect their properties with sandbags and had reportedly been there since the early morning.

“They wanted to show their support for the flood victims and have joined the armed forces relief effort,” said a royal spokesperson.

Some 70% of England’s fire and rescue services are involved in the storm and flood relief efforts, according to chief fire and rescue adviser Peter Holland.

Sussex Police Search and Rescue officers evacuate residents through to a flooded street in Egham, England. Picture: Sang Tan/AP

Britain has been suffering its wettest winter in years, with the most rainfall in January since 1776.

Thousands of homes in southern England have been flooded, with parts of Somerset under water for more than a month.

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II also helped the relief efforts by providing farmers in Somerset with feed and bedding from the royal farms at Windsor.

The Met Office warned of a “multi-pronged attack,” with gusts of wind of up to 130km/h in south-west England from yesterday until today, and heavy rains spreading north-eastwards up the country.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to do “whatever it takes” to help communities affected by the extreme weather and repeated his promised that “money is no object” in the relief effort.

Around 17 000 households in Wales remained without power late yesterday, two days after storms felled trees and damaged infrastructure. Rail services were also severely disrupted in England and Wales due to landslips, flooding and speed restrictions imposed because of the high winds.

The Environment Agency issued 24 severe flood warnings, meaning a threat to life, including in Surrey and Berkshire, where the River Thames has burst its banks, and along the Cornish and Devon coasts.

Hundreds of other flood warnings and alerts were in place across England and Wales. The storm also affected the Brittany region of western France, causing power outages in 100 000 homes there.

Worst hit were people in the Finistere and Cotes d’Armor departments on the English Channel, the power utility said. A few thousand homes in Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine also were without power.

Pedestrians wear ponchos during a rainstorm in London. Picture: Neil Hall/Reuters

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