UK floods: Army deployed to Somerset Levels as military planners and specialist vehicles provide support to victims

Troops set to deliver food to villagers and help transport people in and out

The Army has been deployed to the Somerset Levels, with specialist vehicles brought in to provide relief to villagers cut off by flooding.

The county is currently experiencing its most significant floods for more than 20 years, and with more rain forecast for the coming days the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said late yesterday it was deploying military planners to meet with Somerset County Council "at first light".

The decision came following a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra, and follows on from a Met Office severe weather warning for significant downpours on Friday and Saturday.

With some villagers near Langport only able to get to their homes via a single boat going once an hour, the Army will provide specialist amphibious transportation and deliver supplies to those in need.

Around 65 square kilometres of land have been completely swamped by water, and on Monday the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was met with hostility on a visit to the area by residents saying they were suffering "third world" conditions.

Last night Mr Paterson said Somerset County Council had only asked for assistance "for the first time today".

But a council spokesman said the authority had been discussing with the military for weeks the possibility of bringing in manpower, sandbags and amphibious vehicles.

John Osman, Conservative leader of Somerset County Council, said military might would give beleaguered residents the chance to repair their battered properties, with the village of Muchelney cut off since the turn of the year because of flooded roads.

Many parts of the Levels have been flooded since Christmas and there are fears it could be months before the water is completely pumped away.

Drainage experts blame two decades of under-investment in flood defence work for turning the Levels into a "disaster area" and said it was "very, very urgent" that rivers are dredged to prevent more damage to homes, livelihoods and wildlife.

David Heath, the Liberal Democrat MP for Somerset and Frome, welcomed the Army's assistance and the promise of dredging in the future.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "It seems that we have a real sense of urgency now from the Government as to what we need in Somerset."

  Flood water surrounds houses in the village of Thorney in Somerset, earlier this week Flood water surrounds houses in the village of Thorney in Somerset, earlier this week Rev Jane Twitty said she and fellow Somerset residents had been using boats to get about during the flooding.

Heating fuel is running out for those who are not on mains gas and children are cold and wet when they get home, she added.

She told BBC Breakfast the community was "getting tired now" and would welcome help from the military.

She said: "I am sure they will but there will be questions asked about why it took so long to help them.

"I think they will be hoping they can be more flexible about times they will be coming in and out because the boat stops at 4pm."

Additional reporting by PA


Watch Environment Secretary Owen Paterson discuss dredging rivers on Somerset Levels

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher

£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee