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UK communities brace for more floods

Prime Minister Cameron warns Thames-side villages that the worst is not yet over, as army steps in for relief effort.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2014 05:41
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Sodden communities along the River Thames braced for more floods, as Britain counted the cost of a storm that claimed several lives and left tens of thousands of homes without power.

AFP news agency reported that at least three people were killed in separate incidents in Ireland, Britain and the English Channel after violent winds and heavy rain swept in from the Atlantic on Friday.

Pulling down power lines and disrupting transport networks across the region, the storm brought fresh misery to flood-hit communities in Britain, parts of which are suffering their wettest start to the year for 250 years.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Saturday that the worst was not yet over as he visited the Thames-side village of Chertsey, west of London, to see how the military were helping bolster flood defences.

"What we do in the next 24 hours is vital because tragically the river levels will rise again. So every sand bag delivered, every house helped, every flood barrier put in place can make a big difference," Cameron said.

Army deployed

More than 3,000 members of the military are involved in the flood relief effort, according to the defence ministry, as the government seeks to counter criticism that it was too slow to respond to the crisis.

Fourteen severe flood alerts warning of a risk to life were in place along the River Thames on Saturday night, with another two issued for the southwest of England, which has borne the brunt of two months of heavy rain.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper published on Sunday, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband blamed climate change for the run of bad weather, and urged government ministers to treat global warming as a "national security issue".

Cameron said last month that "I very much suspect" there is a link but said that either way, there should be more investment in flood defences.

"Tragically these weather events have been hitting community and after community and doing that week after week," a wind-swept Cameron said in Chertsey.

"It has been very, very tough for people and my heart goes out to anyone whose been flooded and we'll do everything we can to help people get back on their feet."

The prime minister has promised that money is "no object" in helping flood-hit communities, although Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned the bad weather is likely to affect Britain's fragile recovery from recession.

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Source:
AFP
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