Published On: Sat, Feb 15th, 2014

UK Storms: Wind And Rain As Flooding Continues

Strong winds and heavy rain have lashed southern England as widespread flooding continues to hit parts of the UK.The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place on Saturday for the south of England, south Wales, Northern Ireland and northern Scotland.

Wind and rain as flooding continues

Thousands of sandbags are being used in counties including Gloucestershire, Somerset, Berkshire and Surrey.

An 85-year-old male passenger died after a freak wave hit a British cruise ship in the English Channel.

Ship airlift

BBC weather presenter Nick Miller said the latest storm to hit the UK left its mark as a deep area of low pressure moved north, with winds of up 80mph (129km/h).

He said: “Saturday will start very windy with bands of wet weather working south around that area of low pressure as it pulls away to the north east.”

The Environment Agency has 22 severe flood warnings – meaning “danger to life” – in place, as well as about 200 flood warnings and more that 300 flood alerts in England and Wales. There are a handful of flood alerts in Scotland.

Water crashed through a window of cruise ship the MS Marco Polo, injuring several passengers, as it headed for its home port of Tilbury in Essex.

The man, and a woman in her 70s, were airlifted off the ship but he later died.

Emergency services and the Army rescued 32 people trapped in a beachfront restaurant in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, after wind-blown shingle smashed windows and a tidal surge flooded the ground floor.

Conditions were described as “extremely dangerous” but police said there were no serious injuries.

Rescuers were searching for two hill walkers missing on Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis in the Highlands. The operation will resume at first light.

Cancelled trains

The Highways Agency said the QE2 Bridge and the Sheppey Crossing in Kent would remain closed until high winds eased, which is expected to be around mid-afternoon on Saturday.

South West Trains has cancelled all services before 08:00 GMT so lines can be checked for fallen trees and other obstructions.

In south-west England, First Great Western said weather conditions had made it too dangerous to run any trains in Cornwall.

A landslip blocked the line between London and Redhill near Merstham Tunnel, causing delays for thousands of passengers.

The Energy Networks Association said further strong winds meant more than 41,000 properties were without power across Wales and southern England.

More than half a million homes had been reconnected since Wednesday, it added.

Shipping containers protecting the damaged seafront railway at Dawlish in Devon were breached, leaving properties at risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency confirmed that sirens had sounded on Portland, where there was a severe flood warning for Chiswell.

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Live flood warnings from the Environment Agency

In other developments:

  • Princes William and Harry joined the effort to pile sandbags in Datchet, Berkshire
  • About 2,200 armed forces personnel – regulars and reserves – helped the flood relief effort and a further 3,000 were on standby to respond within two hours, according to Maj Gen Patrick Sanders, assistant chief of defence staff
  • Flood defences in Gloucester were succeeding in holding back the water, according to the Environment Agency
  • Council staff in Hampshire were moved from their “normal day jobs” to help the flood relief effort
  • Buckingham Palace said the Queen was supporting farmers affected by the flooding on the Somerset Levels by contributing feed and bedding from the royal farms at Windsor
  • The prime minister said UK businesses were offering “free help” to those affected by the flooding
  • Major supermarkets are providing supplies such as waders, food parcels, batteries and torches
  • Police appealed to drivers across Northern Ireland to take extra care as rain and snow disrupted travel
  • The AA urged drivers to try to travel only during daylight

The Environment Agency said flood levels on the Thames had stabilised after a fairly dry day on Thursday, but Friday’s rainfall would cause levels to rise again and stay high for several days.

Programme director Peter Willison said: “This remains a very live event. I expect we will see further property flooding.”

Alex Tribick, from the Spelthorne Business Forum in Surrey, said the local currency had “changed from the pound to the sandbag”.

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron said the government would “fight at every front to help people” hit by floods.

He said money would be no object in a “massive national effort”, saying: “I want people to know that the government absolutely stands behind this relief effort.”

Some parts of the Somerset Levels have been flooded for several weeks, while areas near the Thames in Berkshire and Surrey have seen major flooding in recent days.