independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Hundreds of homes flooded as storms claim two lives

MORE than 800 homes have been flooded and two people have died in severe storms after heavy rain and high winds battered Britain.

Devon and Cornwall were among the worst-affected areas, along with the historic town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, where water was 3ft (90cm) deep.

In Kempsey in Worcestershire, standing water caused chaos as up to 10 inches (27cm) covered the A38.

In Exeter, a woman was crushed to death by a tree after high winds and downpours across the south-west, where hundreds of homes have been flooded. It was the second storm-related death after a man drowned in his car in Somerset.

The 21-year-old woman, believed to be homeless, was in a tent in Exeter city centre when she was struck by the falling spruce tree. Two others were seriously injured.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised the government would "ensure everything is being done to help".

The Environment Agency revealed more than 800 homes have been flooded, with thousands of motorists rescued from water-logged roads.

Forecasters have warned the worse may still be to come, with further rainfall and 60mph winds expected overnight, with experts warning conditions pose a "serious threat to life".

Rainfall is estimated to be around 15mm across the spine of Britain today, less than the 30mm of rain in pockets of the West Country, but meteorologists said it would offer little respite to weary homeowners keen to begin the clean-up.

Although yesterday afternoon saw a temporary respite, the Environment Agency has continued to issue warnings, with over 500 alerts now in place.

One severe flood warning – the highest alert possible – remains in place for the River Cober in Helston, Cornwall.

Destruction

More than 500 alerts have now been issued, including nearly 230 flood warnings – the second strongest alert – and confined largely to the midlands as bands of rain which brought destruction to the south-west moved northwards.

Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire were badly affected.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon met with people in Malmesbury where 3ft of water was reported in some parts of the Wiltshire town.

He described the clear-up work as "heroic", adding: "The government's job, first of all, is to make sure people are as prepared as possible with a changing climate. . . for these extremes of weather. Secondly, we've got to continue building flood defences."

Both the RAC and AA reported surges in flood-related callouts as roads and highways were closed. But that has not deterred many motorists from taking their chances, incurring the wrath of emergency workers.

National Rail said the severe weather is disrupting services across the south-west.

Irish Independent

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