Britain has announced a “red warning” – informing public and emergency responders of “severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause danger to life or widespread disruption”. Large sections of the country are flooded and the Met Office on Wednesday announced that winds to over 100mph have been recorded as a huge storm batters the UK. Over 16 fresh flood warnings have already been issued for Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset. The Met Office said a wind gust of 108mph was recorded at Aberdaron, North Wales – the strongest in recent storms. The Met Office said, “Winds of this strength can cause widespread structural damage, bringing down trees and also leading to loss of power supplies.”
They advised people to change their travel plans during the storm-force winds. Strong winds have left 21,000 people without power. The Environment Agency warned that the Thames was set to rise in places to its highest levels in more than 60 years causing severe disruption to communities in Windsor, Maidenhead and Surrey. The Environment agency said, “Windsor, Maidenhead and communities in Surrey are warned to expect severe disruption as Thames is expected to rise in places to highest levels for over 60 years. With further rainfall forecast for today and on Friday and Saturday, the risk of flooding is likely to increase over the next few days.
There are currently 14 severe flood warnings in force for the Thames Valley area.” “Around 50 homes along the Thames Valley were flooded overnight bringing the total number of homes flooded since Friday 29 January to 1,135. During this time over 181,000 homes have been protected and over 200,000 homes have been sent a flood warning following the wettest January since 1766,” it added. Prime Minister David Cameron announced a comprehensive package of new measures to help businesses and farmers hit hard by the deadly floods.
The measures include £5,000 repair and renew grant for all affected homeowners and businesses, 100% business rate relief for 3 months for all businesses affected by the flooding, £10 million fund for farmers suffering water-logged fields to help restore it to farmable land as quickly as possible and a total commitment in excess of £750 million from the major banks to provide financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods.
The PM toured some areas most affected by floods and storm damage. British environment minister Eric Pickles said December saw the highest surge on the East Coast for 60 years while January has been the wettest since George III was on the throne. “There is damage to transport infrastructure and sea defences, including the railway line at Dawlish, as well as to power networks,” he said.
John Curtin from the Environment Agency said, “Following the wettest January on record for England successive bands of heavy rain are forecast, lasting into the weekend. With further river and coastal flooding expected this week we have teams working around the clock to protect homes and communities and over 122,600 properties have been protected over the past three days.”