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Britain braced for more flooding


By Tom Donnelly

New flood warnings have been issued across south-western Britain as communities brace themselves for more devastation.

The Environment Agency warned that water levels are continuing to rise across Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset as well as in parts of the Midlands.

Some 102 flood warnings and 181 flood alerts have been issued, although none have been categorised as severe, which signals a risk to life.

The Hampshire Avon, which runs through Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, the River Stour in Dorset, the River Parrett in Somerset and the River Severn through the Midlands have showed no signs of receding water levels.

Residents along the Thames Valley in Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire have been told they are also at risk of flooding in the coming days.

South west and south east urged to stay safe

There was continued flooding on parts of the Somerset Levels, and there remained a risk of groundwater flooding in Dorset, southern Wilshire and West Sussex, the Environment Agency said.

The Agency have sent teams to check and maintain flood defences, clear blockages in watercourses and monitor water levels in an effort to aid communities.

"The risk of flooding continues this week, with communities in the south west and south east urged to stay safe and sign up to free flood warnings," Paul Mustow, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said.

"When flood warnings are issued it means that flooding is expected and we urge people to take immediate action to prepare."

Energy firms criticised during recent storms

David Cameron announced during Prime Minister's Questions that lessons would be learned from recent devastating storms.

He said some energy firms did not have enough emergency staff working during the festive period to effectively deal with power failures.

Amid criticism that energy providers acted too slowly to reconnect households that had been cut-off, Mr Cameron said that the Energy Secretary Ed Davey would be looking into the energy firm's responses and the compensation on offer.

The Prime Minister promised that ministers would update MPs within weeks, following a request from Labour leader Ed Miliband.

In England, seven people have died and more than 1,700 homes and businesses have been flooded since the beginning of the festive season, with around 550 properties flooded since the new year.

In Wales some 140 properties have been flooded.

Severe risk to some regions

Flood defences managed to protect more than 220,000 properties over the Christmas break, while another 800,000 were secured during the coastal flooding in early December.

High winds left 250,000 homes without power over Christmas, with some families waiting days to have their electricity restored.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said that the government was working closely with local councils, the insurance industry and other groups to make sure that people could get the help they need quickly.

Mr Paterson told the House of Commons that parts of the country were focusing on recovery after storms and flooding hit over the Christmas and new year period, while other regions remained at a severe risk of floods.

He said that a few energy providers could have been quicker to restore power to thousands of homes affected by the storms and floods.

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