Over the past week, more than 600 homes have flooded in the UK due to the river Thames surge.
Although some 180,000 properties have been protected from flooding and 138,000 properties have been sent a free flood warning. Shocking aerial images show wide-scale flooding of commuter belt homes as forecasters warn hundreds more will suffer same fate within days.
Hundreds more homes are at risk of flooding as the South of England faced more heavy rain and strong winds. And these shocking aerial photographs show the true chaos and damage caused by the extreme weather in the South over the past few months.
The severe weather which has hit the UK, resulting in large areas of flooding on the Somerset Levels, shows little chance of easing until next week.
An EA spokesman said engineers were ‘working 24/7’ to pump water from flood-affected communities in Somerset, where overnight rainfall has seen levels rise still further. He said: ‘We’re expecting the water levels to rise as the rain comes in, but we’re working around the clock.’
The EA has issued a number of severe weather warnings in the Home Counties along the banks of the River Thames. Communities in Berkshire and Surrey have been been told to expect flooded properties from today.
More than a dozen severe flood warnings have been issued along the River Thames from Datchet to Shepperton Green, including Ham Court and Chertsey, as river levels in the area are extremely high and are forecast to continue to rise.
In the South West, a further two severe flood warnings remain in force at Saltmoor and Northmoor, including Moorland, and for the A361, East Lyng to Burrowbridge, as flooding continues on the Somerset Levels.
Sam Notaro who built a 5ft high earth mound to protect his home from the flood water in Moorland, is losing his battle after water began seeping through. The 40-year-old told Channel 4 News: ‘We hope to win, we’re trying to save the house… we’ve just got to try, it’s the only thing we can do’
Meanwhile, The Ministry of Defence has put 1,600 personnel on six hours notice to help people in the south.
Surrey Police and Thames Valley Police have issued safety advice to residents in their area expected to be affected by flooding. A spokesman for Surrey Police said up to 2,500 homes are at risk of flooding and added that military assistance is being provided.
The Prime Minister, speaking after chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee yesterday, said he had ‘made clear again that every resource is available to the local communities affected’.
The EA said the rise was not considered ‘significant’ on top of the amount of rainfall already saturating parts of the Somerset Levels. The spokesman said further updates would be available later in the morning, but that the ‘main focus’ was now on the Thames.
Unison national officer Matthew Lay said:
‘The attack on the Environment Agency by Eric Pickles is simply a smoke screen to hide the reality that Government cuts to staff and resources have contributed to the devastation caused by severe flooding in parts of England. Continued funding cuts will see staff levels at the agency reduced by a quarter since the coalition came to power in 2010. This sort of reduction compromises the ability of the Environment Agency to respond to emergencies as there is simply not enough staff on the ground to manage a prolonged incident. Environment Agency staffs have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances for more than seven weeks now, only to be attacked by Conservative politicians covering up their own reckless decision-making which has brought these matters to a head. We need to see long-term investment in the Environment Agency, and staff should be left to get on with the job without the interference of politicians who are all too keen to jump on a bandwagon of blame instead of accepting responsibility.’
Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle also expressed her opinion, saying:
‘With water levels rising and thousands of homes at risk, it is unbelievable that ministers have embarked on an internal blame game instead of focusing on helping the communities affected by the floods. The fact is that David Cameron approved a reckless slashing of Britain’s flood defence capacity after the election, and the Environment Secretary has repeatedly ignored warnings from experts that a failure to dredge had left the Somerset Levels vulnerable to extreme flooding.
‘Instead of blaming officials for their decisions and now turning on each other like ferrets in a sack, ministers must get a grip on this worsening situation.’
The bad weather appears to have also taken its toll on parts of Britain’s coastline, with a cliff fall recorded at Seaford Head, near Eastbourne, in East Sussex.