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Water, water everywhere: Britain at risk of more flooding as heavy rain looms (and one man has found the school run a real drag)

January 9, 2014 7:06 AM
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Water, water everywhere: Britain at risk of more flooding as heavy rain looms (and one man has found the school run a real drag)

For these girls, the school run normally involves getting into a car... but that was before the floods came.

The family of five, from Dorset, have taken to piling into a small wooden boat to escape their country road which has been under 3ft of water since December 23.

And it's been left to David Allen to pull the boat - containing his wife Hayley, 34, and daughters Tia, 16, Sophie, 11, and Holly, 7 - to the safety of their car 150m down the road.

They are just one of a number of families stranded in the village of Hampreston near Ferndown, following the severe storms that have battered Britain over the past few weeks.

As a heavy band of rain is set to sweep across the country this evening, communities have been warned to brace themselves for further flooding this week.

The Met Office said that as much as 40mm of rain could fall on some areas of Wales and south-west England.

River levels were continuing to rise in counties including Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and the Midlands, the Environment Agency (EA) said.

There were 102 flood warnings and 181 flood alerts in place, although none of them were deemed severe, which would carry a danger to life.

Rivers including the Hampshire Avon through Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, the Stour in Dorset, the Parrett in Somerset and the Severn through the Midlands showed no signs of receding.

Tonight: Rain will spread northeast tonight, clearing through the morning. Rain in the west and southwest will spread north and east to most parts, turning wintry over northern hills later, and with strong winds along southern coastlines. Staying drier with scattered showers in the far northwest.

Tomorrow: Showery outbreaks of rain will gradually clear eastwards through the morning. Then turning drier and brighter with isolated showers, but it will also be feeling cooler, especially in the breeze.

Friday to Sunday: A cold start, before rain moves east during Friday. Saturday, sunny with wintry showers in the north. Cold and frosty overnight. Mostly dry Sunday, but rain in the west later.

Communities along the River Thames throughout Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire were also warned that they were also at risk of flooding today and in the coming few days.

Flooding continued on parts of the Somerset Levels, and there remained a risk of flooding from groundwater in Dorset, south Wiltshire and West Sussex, the EA said.

Teams were said to be checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels to help communities.

Paul Mustow, flood risk manager at the EA, said: 'The risk of flooding continues this week, with communities in the south-west and south-east urged to stay safe and sign up to free flood warnings.

The latest warnings came as David Cameron said during Prime Minister's Questions that lessons would be learned from the recent devastating weather events.

He said some energy companies did not have enough staff working over the Christmas period to deal effectively with power failures.

And he said Energy Secretary Ed Davey was looking at the response of the energy companies and the compensation on offer amid criticism that they were too slow to reconnect cut-off families.

The Government would update MPs within weeks, Mr Cameron added, as he confirmed that more was being spent on flood defences in this four-year period than the previous period.

Seven people have died and more than 1,700 homes and businesses have been flooded in England since the beginning of the Christmas period, with around 550 properties flooded since the new year.

Flood defences protected more than 220,000 properties over the Christmas period and another 800,000 were protected during the coastal flooding in early December.

High winds over Christmas also left 250,000 homes without power, with some families waiting days for electricity to be restored.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson this week said the Government was working closely with local councils, the insurance industry and others to ensure that people could quickly get the help they need.

Some areas of the country were focused on recovery after storms and flooding over the Christmas and new year period, while others remained at significant risk of floods, he told the Commons.

A pensioner drowned today after falling from a bicycle while trying to pedal through 4ft of floodwater.

The tragedy happened in Wytham, Oxfordshire, only a few miles from the scene of another horrific drowning when a man fell from his mobility scooter into a flood-swollen river.

In the latest incident, the rider, a man aged in his 70s who has not yet been named, crashed off his pedal bike in the middle of a country lane after it was swamped by a stream which had burst its banks.

The elderly man was airlifted to hospital after passers-by, who saw him struggling to keep his head above the murky water, raised the alarm.

The OAP was rushed to hospital in a serious condition where, despite doctors' best efforts, he died soon after arrival.

A man and woman were believed to have come across the pensioner lying face down in the floodwater moments after he crashed off his bicycle.

'They had literally just come around the corner when it happened,' said one man, who declined to be named.

'They pulled him to safety and put him in the back of a car while they waited for the emergency services to arrive.

The resident of Wytham, Oxon, described the dead pensioner as local and said they believed he was cycling from the direction of nearby Wolvercote when the tragedy happened.

Another local described the submerged scene, at Godstow Road, as resembling a weir.

'The floodwater had collected at the bottom of a hump back bridge after the Seacourt stream had burst its banks,' said one eyewitness.

The latest storm tragedy happened as an inquest was opened into the death of Gabriel Stocks, who drowned in the River Thames in Oxford while driving his mobility scooter through floodwater.

Eight people are now thought to have died as a result of the flooding, while two people, 18-year-old Harry Martin and 76-year old Shirley Coalbran, are missing.

The devastating floods which have devastated large parts of Britain are linked to climate change, David Cameron suggested today.

The Prime Minister told MPs he ‘suspects’ the storms, 60mph winds and torrential rain are the result of global warning.

Mr Cameron also criticised power firms for allowing too many staff to take holiday over Christmas, leaving thousands of families without power when the stoms hit.

Ministers have ordered a major review of the way the aftermath of the storms was handled, which will be presented to Parliament within a month.

It will also examine whether planned cuts to the budget of the Environment Agency will undermine its ability to protect flood defences in future.

Mr Cameron told MPs that ‘no matter how good the preparation there are always lessons to learn’.

While the Environment Agency warning service worked better than it has in the past, there were ‘some negatives’, he added.

But his claim that the floods are the result of climate change is likely to cause dismay in Conservative ranks, with even Environment Secretary Owen Paterson known to be sceptical about the causes and impacts of global warming.

In response Mr Cameron said: ‘I agree with you that we are seeing more abnormal weather events.

‘Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is.

Labour has called on the government to publish a report by the end of this month giving a ‘full assessment of the future capability of our flood defences and flood response agencies, and whether the investment plans in place are equal to the need for events of this kind’.

He demanded to know ‘why it took so long for the energy distribution companies to restore power to homes over the Christmas period and what steps do you believe can be taken to ensure that kind of things does not happen again’.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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