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

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor