: European Floods Disaster : BRITAIN on alert

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A pensioner was found dead in a pool of water yesterday, hours after refusing to leave his Wharfedale home before it was hit by the flooding affecting England and Wales. Having ignored pleas from his family and the police, Clifford Greenwood, 67, a bachelor from Pool, near Leeds, was on his own when the river Wharfe burst its banks. He was found in his kitchen, having apparently tried to wade through the water engulfing his home.

"His family had been going on at him all night to come out," said North Yorkshire Police. "Officers called at his home at 1.30am, but he refused to leave. He was found dead by officers after they were called to the house mid-morning." A spokesman said the cause of death was being investigated.

Last night, although the weather was improving, many rivers across England and Wales remained on red alert. The National Rivers Authority (NRA) said almost every river from the Scottish border to north Derbyshire had been on flood alert at some time thisweek.

With many families still unable to return home, the NRA said 300 properties had been flooded in all. Northumbria, North Yorkshire and the Lake District had borne the brunt of driving rain and storms. Many roads remained closed after becoming waterlogged or blocked by landslides.

At the end of the wettest January since 1958, the situation remained serious in Gloucester, and also in Worcester and Tewkesbury. More than 50 properties were flooded along the banks of the Severn. Riverside homes in the village of Elmore, Gloucestershire, were swamped when the biggest tide of the year swept up the river.

In Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, the Army was called in to move out the old and infirm when the town was left feet deep in water, leaving residents unimpressed by flood measures introduced after the town was hit three years ago.

In the North-west, 80 properties were flooded at Appleby on the river Eden in Cumbria, where some of the heaviest rainstorms struck. Commercial properties near the river Lune in Lancaster were hit, although water later receded. Twenty-five properties were flooded by the river Roch at Littleborough, Greater Manchester.

The NRA said the rainstorms, which began in Wales and the South-west of England, had spread to the North of England with little warning. NRA experts blamed a rapid thaw of snow in the Pennines, combined with 2in of rain over recent days.

"In Yorkshire and the North-east some rivers have recorded their highest ever levels," the NRA added. "The good news is that the weather is improving although it will take some time for the flooding to recede."

Last night there was a red flood alert at Maidenhead, where 20 properties were at risk from the Thames.