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Storm Eunice: No 10 calls Cobra meeting as minister warns of ‘risk to life and limb’

Army on ‘high readiness standby’, as security minister says lessons learned from previous storms

Adam Forrest
Friday 18 February 2022 09:24 GMT
Rough sea in Cornwall as Storm Eunice hits England

The government’s emergency response committee Cobra will meet on Friday to prepare for Storm Eunice, as the public was warned the weather posed “a risk to life and limb”.

Senior ministers will meet in Whitehall this afternoon to work on responses to the 90mph winds set to batter Britain, with the latest storm sparking red alert weather warnings.

Home Office minister Damian Hinds said the Army was on “high readiness standby” to help if needed. “Cobra have been convened about making sure the readiness is in place for this storm,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The Met Office issued two ultra-rare “red” weather warnings – along the coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset and the south coast of Wales, and over the east of England and London – due to the combination of high tides, strong winds and storm surge.

“It is unusual to have a red weather warning. It is very unusual to have two,” said Mr Hinds – who warned that the danger to life alert is “exactly what it is says it is … there is a risk to life and limb.”

Asked if people could get “cut off” by the storm, Mr Hinds told Sky News that was “absolutely a risk”, adding: “We are strongly encouraging people to take precautions and make sure they stay safe.”

The secretary minister said the government had learned “a lot of lessons from previous events like Storm Arwen and others”.

He added: “There are troops as you know at readiness if needed, if military assistance is called for, the Environment Agency are of course on the ground, the [power] network operators themselves are also in readiness.”

Millions of people have been urged to stay at home for the day, as one of the worst storms in a generation hits the UK.

Schools, roads and businesses have shut, with major disruption to the travel network due to concerns over flying debris caused by gusts of up to 90mph because of Storm Eunice.

Mr Hinds said on Friday it “appears” that climate change was linked to the increasing number of storms hitting the UK.

Asked if events like Storm Eunice could become more common with climate change, he told Sky News: “It does appear, doesn’t it, from the pattern that there has been an increase in the frequency of these big weather events.”

Mr Hinds said: “I leave it to the scientists to talk about the exact trends and exactly how much you can ascribe to climate change, but it certainly does appear that way, doesn’t it, that we’ve had this increased frequency.”

The security minister added: “We certainly know that climate change on a global level is associated with more freak weather events, and can indeed cause danger.”

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