Rescuers are trying to reach people trapped in their homes, as rising water levels threaten “significant flooding” across southern Britain.The River Thames is at record levels and further rain is forecast to fall tonight, with around 400 warnings and alerts – including 16 severe warnings, meaning there is a danger to life – in place.
Some of those forced to evacuate in Wraysbury, Berkshire, are blaming submerged streets on sandbagging further upstream in Datchet, where the military has been drafted in to build emergency barriers in a desperate attempt to hold back the water.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is visiting flood-hit communities in Somerset, said the Government “needs to strain every sinew” to tackle the crisis but warned: “Now is not the time to point fingers.”
Meanwhile, there is further misery for commuters, as flooded rail lines and landslips cause major disruption on some First Great Western, CrossCountry, Southeastern and South West Trains routes.
Towns and villages along the banks of the swollen River Thames are among those most at risk.
Record water levels have been reached in Marlow Lock, Romney Lock, Walton and Ditton Island, and there are fears the river will rise yet further in coming days.
As many as 2,500 homes are under threat and the river is threatening to burst its banks in several places between Datchet and Shepperton Green.
The Thames Barrier is expected to remain closed throughout the day to protect homes and businesses further downsteam in London.
Around 1,600 military personnel are on stand by to help in the South, while in the South West, 20,000 more sandbags are ready to be deployed.
On his visit to Burrowbridge, Mr Clegg told Sky’s Adam Boulton: “No one has encountered this kind of deluge over such a sustained period of time.
“People are having to adapt and we need to work together – that’s the key thing.”
Two severe flood warnings remain in place in the South West, which has already seen extensive flooding, especially on the Somerset Levels.
Prime Minister David Cameron will visit the region later, having chaired an emergency Cobra meeting on Sunday night, during which he “made clear again that every resource is available to the local communities affected”.
Meanwhile, a search is under way for a kayaker – a man in his 30s – who went missing in the River Usk at Llangynidr in Powys, Mid Wales, on Sunday lunchtime while with a group of friends.
Dyfed-Powys Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service, Brecon Mountain Rescue Team and the coastguard are involved in the search.