UK weather: David Cameron pledges to visit flood-hit communities amid warnings of more to come

 

David Cameron has pledged to visit “every part of the country” affected by floods as the misery continues for waterlogged parts of England.

Speaking to the BBC from Chertsey, Surrey, the Prime Minister praised the army’s rescue efforts and batted away criticism levelled at the government’s response to the crisis.

He said there had been a “huge, joined-up national effort” but admitted there were some lessons to be learned.

“We will learn the lessons afterwards – right now the key thing is to get as much done as we can in the next few hours,” he added.

“It has been very, very difficult for people and my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected.”

In a statement released after he chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this evening, he said: "I heard an update on the weather forecast and the likely impact over the days ahead. Thankfully, it does appear that we will see less rain and wind over the next few days.

"However, after so much rain over recent weeks, groundwater levels remain very high and in many places will continue to rise.

"The extent of the extreme weather this winter is clear. The Thames barrier has been in operation for over 30 years and yet one quarter of all its total closures have happened in the last three months. Network Rail have also made clear the size of the task they face in keeping the rail network operating after so much rain and wind.

"I was reassured that all the agencies involved - thousands of people locally and nationally - have made huge efforts over last few days to protect more homes and businesses, with over 3,000 of our troops deployed on task tonight and many hundreds more on standby."

The Thames Barrier has been shut for a record 16th consecutive time to protect communities ahead of more rain expected overnight.

A yellow warning is in place for rainfall in much of England and Wales but winds have eased.

The Environment Agency warned that parts of southern, south west and central England are still at risk of flooding as river levels remain high.

There were 16 severe flood warnings in place on Saturday afternoon – down on 22 earlier in the day – and hundreds of less serious alerts.

The risk will continue over the coming days for the Somerset Levels and Moors, where river levels continue to rise, posing a further threat to communities who have already been underwater for weeks.

The rivers Severn, Wye and Avon are still swelling with recent rainfall.

Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “We continue to see the very real and devastating impacts that flooding can have on communities and business.

“We know the distress that flooding can cause and are doing everything we can to reduce the impacts.”

The Met Office expects conditions to become more settled into next week and has not issued any warnings from Tuesday onwards.

It will be a relief for communities picking up the pieces of hurricane-force winds that tore into parts of the coast on Friday night.

Three people have died so far in the extreme conditions. A woman was crushed in her car by falling masonry in London yesterday evening and a man who was on a cruise ship died when a monster wave smashed through the window. A 77-year-old man, Bob Thomas, was hit by a tree in the garden of his Caernarfon home on Wednesday and died in hospital yesterday.

Diners had to be evacuated from a restaurant when shingle smashed the windows on Friday evening and a sinkhole, possibly caused by rainwater washing away soil, appeared in Hemel Hempsted on Saturday.

Travel delays continue on roads and railways across the country as authorities attempt to clear fallen trees and 65,409 are without power this evening, according to the Energy Networks Association.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas
TV
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran