UK weather: rain to worsen floods following brief respite on Sunday

The Environment Agency has issued more than a dozen flood warnings for Monday

Kashmira Gander@kashmiragander
Monday 17 February 2014 09:24
Flood water spills from the river Thames on Sunday in Chertsey, England.
Flood water spills from the river Thames on Sunday in Chertsey, England.

The extreme weather that has blighted the UK for weeks is set to continue, following a day of respite for many regions on Sunday.

Swathes of the UK remain on high alert as sporadic rain is expected to exacerbate some of the worst flooding seen in decades.

Sixteen Environment Agency (EA) severe flood warnings remain in place for the South West and the Thames Valley, with nearly 130 flood warnings and more than 180 flood alerts.

The Met Office has warned the South West to expect another spell of rain, with 10mm to 20mm to fall quite widely and up to 40mm over higher ground.

The impact of the weather on travel also continues, with passengers experiencing delays on many rail services on Monday morning.

Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, First Great Western (FGW), London Midland, South West Trains, Southeastern and Southern, are all reporting major delays.

Meanwhile, FGW said 75 per cent of services out of London Paddington would be restored to normal.

Local services will also be running between Reading and London on Monday, though some trains won't be able to run because of flooding affecting signalling equipment near Maidenhead.

In Hampshire, members of the public were warned to stay away from unexploded shells that have been exposed during the storms.

Clean-up operations began on Sunday in the break between extreme weather, when tonnes of debris was removed from the River Severn in Worcester.

But the operation in the desperate Somerset Levels area was hindered when high volume pumps had to be switched off because they were eroding the river bank.

The updates come as Prime Minister David Cameron called the flooding a "tragedy" and warned people to brace themselves for more bad weather this week, while he was chairing a Cobra emergency committee on Sunday night.

Mr Cameron, who has unveiled a £10 million package of support for flood-hit businesses, is expected to meet residents, volunteers and troops in flood-hit parts of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire on Monday.

He said: “I am hopeful that the work to strengthen long-term flood defences, and the emergency measures which have been put in place over recent days and weeks will mean that we can minimise the number of homes and businesses affected by the latest high water levels.

“The recent flooding has been a tragedy for all those affected and my thoughts are with them. While it is of no comfort to those individuals, over 1.3 million other homes have been protected since December and we will continue to invest in flood defence measures to protect even more.

“Extensive efforts to protect and repair properties and infrastructure are ongoing by many thousands of people among agencies, the military and the emergency services.

“I speak for us all when I thank them profusely for their hard work,” he added.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also announced that more than 3,000 troops were currently deployed with 5,000 more available, after he admitted that the military could have been used to help affected communities earlier.

He said Royal Engineers were carrying out a high-speed assessment of "serious" damage to the UK's flood defence infrastructure.

Their words come following a number of deaths in the past few weeks.

Two people died on Friday - James Swinstead, 85, an elderly passenger on a cruise ship in the English Channel, and minicab driver Julie Sillitoe, 49, whose car was hit by falling masonry in central London.

A 20-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn baby, from Tredegar, south Wales, also died in a crash on the A465 between Brynmawr and Garnlydan.

Mother-of-three Mrs Sillitoe was killed close to Holborn Underground station after large chunks of masonry fell on to her silver Skoda Octavia on Friday night.

Meanwhile, a poll by ComRes for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror found that just 59% of people thought the Government was "beginning to get a grip" on the flooding.

Some 48% said the storms had made them more convinced that climate change was happening, compared to 30% who said their views had not changed.

Additional reporting by PA

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