UK weather: Thousands face Christmas power cuts as floods dampen the festive spirit

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Emergency evacuations as 130 flood warnings remain across England and Wales, with 50,000 homes still without power

Thousands of people are suffering the misery of a wet Christmas, with 105 flood warnings across England and Wales.

Fifty thousand homes across the UK are still without power today, the Energy Networks Association said, and it is unlikely that any suffering from a power cut will have their power restored until Boxing Day.

Tim Field of the Energy Networks Association said the number of houses without power is now just under 50,000, adding: "It's likely that some people will still be off on Boxing Day. We don't have exact numbers."

Southern Electric said up to 19,500 customers mainly in south Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, could remain without power overnight.

With many families' turkey dinner ruined, major power company UK Power Networks has now offered to pay for Christmas meals in local pubs or restaurants for people whose supplies remain cut off.

The Environment Agency has decreased the number of severe flood warnings from three to two, and they are both in the South West - at Beaulieu Garden Park Home Site and Iford Bridge Home Park, where evacuations have already taken place.

There are 102 flood warnings and 200 flood alerts. There are more than ten flood warnings in place across mainland Scotland.

Firefighters broke their strike in parts of England because of the storms.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union in Surrey and Kent were recalled to duty under the terms of an agreement between the union, the employers and the Government.

Around 90 people are being evacuated from their homes on the River Stour near Bournemouth.Police began evacuating residents of the Ilford Bridge Home Park shortly after 3am following a severe flood warning from the Environment Agency.

Around 150 properties were hit by flooding in Surrey and Kent

 

They were being taken to the Boscombe Day Centre in Owl Road, Boscombe, Dorset Police said.

Officers have been monitoring the levels of the River Stour closely for the last 24 hours and people living in the threatened areas were warned of the possibility of flooding and evacuation.

Police described the efforts the rescue effort as a “ multi-agency operation”, and advised people who have concerns about flooding to contact the Environment Agency (EA).

Emergency services are also making ready to evacuate people from the Beaulieu Garden Park Home in Christchurch, Dorset, after the EA issued another severe flood warning - warning of danger to life - at 5.40am, the third such alert in place. The alert remains in place.

The Coastguard rescued 76 people from a caravan park that was flooded by the River Medway at Yalding in Kent last night.

The flooding will leave Christmas cancelled for many people. Gary Button, manager of the Old Mill Hotel in Batheaston near Bath, told the BBC he had to cancel more than 50 Christmas dinners after the River Avon flooded the property.

The EA this morning had almost 130 flood warnings across England and Wales, mainly in the South East, the South West and the Midlands. A further 226 flood alerts were also in place, with 90 in the South East alone.

The wet Christmas comes after days of travel chaos - with five deaths linked to the gale force winds and rain over the past few days.

Many travellers had problems reaching their destination. At Gatwick Airport, several thousands were stranded throughout the day, after flooding caused a power outage and closed the entire north terminal. The airport however said that the problems were solved for Christmas Day travellers. Airline easyJet said it would be operating a limited number of flights from Gatwick Airport today to replace ones that should have operated yesterday.

These include flights to Faro, Basle, Malaga, Alicante and Amman, while passengers from a cancelled flight from Gibraltar to Gatwick will be travelling on one from Malaga today.

A round-up of the key incidents and disruptions over the past few days:

* A man died on Tuesday after he jumped into a fast-flowing river in Devon to rescue his dog.

* A woman died and a man was seriously hurt in a car crash in Shropshire in “difficult weather conditions”.

* A woman was swept to her death in a small stream just metres from her home in Wales and a man died in a rain-swollen river in Cumbria on Monday.

*A fifth person died on Sunday night in a multiple car collision in Cornwall during a hail storm.

* Across the channel, violent winds delayed international flights in and out of Paris and left a 12-year-old boy crushed to death beneath construction materials in Normandy.

Additional reporting: PA

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