A man ferries a local resident by boat through the flooded central square in the village of Datchet in Berkshire. Flooded communities in Britain faced a fresh battering from storms and high winds yesterday, with hundreds more homes threatened by the advancing waters.
LONDON: Flooded communities in Britain faced a fresh battering from storms and high winds yesterday, with hundreds more homes threatened by the advancing waters.
Gusts approaching 160 kilometres per hour tore at parts of England and Wales, and the River Thames was predicted to rise to its highest level in more than 60 years in places, threatening towns and villages to the west of London.
More than 1,100 properties along the Thames have been flooded since January 29, authorities said.
More soldiers were drafted in to rescue residents and lay sandbags in deluged villages where primary schools have been transformed into makeshift emergency centres.
The Met Office national weather service issued a red warning — the highest threat level — for “exceptionally strong winds” in western parts of Wales and northwest England.
Coastal areas in western England could also be flooded after being pounded by high waves.
Fourteen severe flood warnings — indicating a danger to life — were in place in Berkshire and Surrey to the west of London, while two remain in Somerset in southwest England, the first area to be badly hit.
Forecasters said 70 millimetres of rain would fall by tomorrow in southwest England.
The military said 2,000 soldiers were available to help, with hundreds pressed into action already.
Prime Minister David Cameron chaired the government’s COBRA emergency committee and then told parliament he stood by his pledge that “money is no object in this relief effort”.
“I want communities who are suffering and people who see water lapping at their doors to know that when it comes to the military, when it comes to sandbags, when it comes to restoring broken flood defences, all of those things, money is no object,” he said.
Cameron warned that a further 800 to 1,000 homes were at risk of flooding as the Thames rose.
He also said grants of up to £5,000 would be available to businesses and homeowners affected by flooding to allow them to better protect their properties in future.
While the Thames remained the focus of the flooding, the city of Worcester in central England was also increasingly threatened by the rapidly rising River Severn.