Heavy rain across western parts of UK to bring more flooding as violent storms leave 100,000 properties without power
The prime minister, David Cameron, will lead talks on Britain’s recovery from one of the wettest winters on record after savage storms left one man dead and tens of thousands without power.
Hundreds more were stranded as winds of up to 108mph stopped trains in their tracks, blew roofs off stations and closed major transport links on a day dubbed “wild Wednesday”.
The floods, which have wreaked havoc, were an almost unparalleled natural crisis, army chief Major General Patrick Sanders said, as hundreds of troops continue to help distraught homeowners defend their properties from ever-rising waters.
The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, said the chaos even threatened to derail Britain’s economic recovery.
More than 100,000 homes and businesses were without power last night after trees and debris were blown on to power lines.
After a brief respite on Thursday Britain faces more chaos as another storm brings heavy rain, strong winds and further risk of flooding on Friday and into the weekend.
The West Country is expected to have 7cm (2.75in) of rain by Thursday, the Met Office said – more than the region would get in the whole of February – while south Wales, western Scotland, Northern Ireland and other parts of southern England are also expected to be lashed by the deluge.
Snow is expected in northern England and parts of Scotland on Thursday, and on Friday more rain and winds of up to 80mph will arrive from the south-west.
The bad weather continues to cause travel chaos, with warnings that customers should expect more major disruption on the rail network.
With some 5,800 properties flooded since early December and no immediate end to the crisis in sight, Cameron will cut short his attendance at an international wildlife conference on Thursday to focus on dealing with the flooding.
A new cabinet committee on flood recovery will also meet, replacing a scheduled meeting of the full cabinet.
Cameron, who chaired a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergencies committee in 10 Downing Street, promised on Tuesday that “money is no object” in offering relief to those affected by the floods, though the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, indicated that there would be “careful consideration” before money is spent on the larger rebuilding exercise after water levels recede.
Sanders said 1,600 troops had been committed and thousands more were available if needed to help communities deal with flooding.
“There’s more that we can do and we want to do more wherever we can make a difference, so please use us, that’s what we’re here for,” he said.
The Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday night more than 2,000 military personnel were on “high-readiness” to respond to requests in flood-affected areas
On Wednesday residents in parts of the UK were warned not to venture out after the Met Office issued a red weather warning for exceptionally strong winds in western Wales and north-west England.
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