Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Britain remains on flood alert as rains to continue

Glastonbury Tor on November 25, 2012 in Somerset, England

Large parts of the south west of Great Britain were on flood alert last night after torrential rains led to a woman’s death and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses over the weekend.

With more heavy rains predicted for the start of this week some 271 flood alerts and over 220 flood warnings remained in place across England and Wales yesterday.

While Britain prepares for even more severe weather, Northern Ireland looks likely to escape the worst of it with no flood or weather warnings in place.

Eddy Carroll, the Met Office's chief forecaster, said: “The very unsettled run of weather is set to continue with further spells of wet and windy weather expected across the country over the next few days.”

The south west was the hardest-hit region with flooding, torrential downpours and gales damaging hundreds of properties. But the damage also extended to parts of Worcestershire and Wiltshire.

The Environment Agency last night confirmed that across England and Wales a total of 816 homes had been hit by flooding.

In Exeter city centre on Saturday night a 21-year-old homeless woman died when a large spruce tree smashed into her tent after being blown down by gusts of more than 60mph. Two men were seriously injured in the incident.

A 70-year-old man died after his car crashed into a swollen river near Earith, Cambridgeshire, on Saturday. But police claimed the accident could have happened “at any time” of the year.

Hundreds of Cornish residents were evacuated from homes as floods caused “serious threats to life” in many villages. Cornwall Council set up special rest centres in many of the worst-hit villages with around 230 staff tasked with helping those hit by flooding.

Severe flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency in Lostwithiel, Helston, Polperro and Perranporth, where rivers were threatening to overflow.

Travelling by road in the region was reported to be almost impossible with floods blocking dozens of routes, including the M5 and M50.

People were left stranded in their homes in Newlyn in Cornwall, while roads in Bovey Tracey in Devon were turned into rivers as water poured down them.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that the Government would assist flood victims. “Shocking scenes of flooding in Cornwall and around the country,” he tweeted.

Richard Benyon, the floods minister, said more than 500 properties had been flooded, but claimed 24,000 homes in the south west had been protected by new flood defences.

However, at Kempsey in Worcestershire, new £1m water pumps — designed to protect the village against flooding of the river Severn — failed at around 5am yesterday. The river Avon also flooded the historic town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, forcing residents from their homes.

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