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Flooding: Travel disruption ensues

Environment Agency flood forecast as of 28 January at 5amHeavy rain has mixed with melting ice and snow to raise water levels, causing flooding and road travel disruption across the UK. While homes have been flooded over the weekend, motorists have gotten stranded on roads. As of 5am this morning, the Environment Agency still had 86 flood warnings and 289 flood alerts in effect for England and Wales.

South west England, Wales, East Anglia and the Midlands were hit with the worst of the flooding over the weekend, with the Environment Agency issuing hundreds of flood alerts and warnings. By Sunday last night, agency staff were concerned about riverside communities like Wyre Piddle and Tewkesbury becoming flooded as the Avon and Severn’s water levels rose. There have been concerns about Dorset and Devon rivers flooding as well, because these were hit hard in November.

In Market Drayton and Shropshire, fire fighters were helping pump flooded homes, while others have been flooded in Pembrokeshire and north Wales as well. Motorists who became stranded in Dorset, Staffordshire and Yorkshire Dales had to be rescued from their vehicles. Between midnight and afternoon on Sunday, the AA had responded to at least 17 drivers stranded in the water. On the M4 in south Wales, eight people suffered injuries in several accidents during a hailstorm.

In Somerset, a 6-month-old baby boy was strapped into a buggy that was blown into Watchet Harbour as he strolled along the water with his mother on Sunday morning. After screaming, dock master George Reeder dived into the freezing water and pulled the buggy to the wall. A passer-by helped tie a rope to it and pull it onto dry land. Another member of the public administered CPR to revive the baby, who was then taken to hospital. It’s believed the boy had been taken out of intensive care by Sunday evening.

It doesn’t look like the forecast will get any better either. Forecasters say that more rain and gale force winds will hit the country, increasing concerns that more serious flooding like that experienced before Christmas will be repeated. Many streams and rivers could cause problems and disrupt travel more over the week. In some areas, spring tides could add to the tough conditions for people living near the coast. The Met Office has warned that the weather is coming from a deep Atlantic depression, and severe weather warnings have been issued for today through Wednesday.

Forecasters expect the south west of England to get hit the hardest by more rain today, and they say flooding may follow because the ground is already saturated. The south west will get hit more tomorrow as well, along with other parts of the south and a majority of Wales, while strong winds are expected to blow throughout the country, including Scotland tomorrow night and the following morning. By the end of the week, it’s believed that the weather will calm down, but it could get cold again.

Local flood defence programs in the south west of England have been given a £721,000 boost, and the regional and coastal committee will announce the schemes it will support in February. The committee consists of local authorities from throughout the region. Chairman James Morrish says the boost in funds is a clear message of resolve to deal with the build-up of flood defence needs in Plymouth, Cornwall, Torbay, Devon and the Isles of Scilly. This is great considering the repeated flooding experienced in the region last year, which meant more than 1,000 homes and businesses were flooded.

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