Floods hit UK, with worse weather on the way


Floods hit UK, with worse weather on the way

Six-month-old baby is rescued from freezing waters as rain and melting snow cause flooding in parts of Britain


Steven Morris

The Guardian, Sunday 27 January 2013 17.11 GMT

Melting snow has combined with heavy rain to cause flooding in parts of the UK. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Homes were flooded, motorists stranded and travel disrupted as pelting rain combined with melted snow to cause problems across parts of the UK over the weekend – but much more severe weather could be on the way.

The worst of the flooding over the weekend was to be found in parts of the south-west of England, the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales, where hundreds of flood warnings and alerts were put in place.

However, harder rain, plus some gale force winds, are on the way, raising concerns that the sort of serious flooding that caused chaos before Christmas could be repeated.

In Somerset a heroic dock master dived into freezing cold waters to rescue a six-month-old baby boy after his buggy was blown in by strong winds.

The infant, who was strapped in the buggy, was swept into the water as his mother walked along Watchet Harbour, Somerset at 8am on Sunday.

After hearing screams for help George Reeder, 63, dived in and pulled the pushchair to the wall, before a member of the public helped attach a rope and haul it to dry land.

The baby was revived by a passerby who administered CPR, before being taken to hospital, where he is now thought to be out of intensive care.

Reeder said he heard screaming from a couple of hundred yards away before jumping on his bike to see what had happened.

“I just jumped in and pulled the pushchair back over to the edge of the quay, and then somebody put a rope down over and I tied it on and they lifted it out.

“As far as I know, what the police told me was that the wind blew the buggy in.”

Around the country many rivers and streams swollen by the melted snow could cause problems and in some places spring tides are expected to add to the difficulties faced by people living close to the coast.

By Sunday evening the Environment Agency had more than 70 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – and more than 325 alerts (flooding is possible) in place.

Agency workers were worried that a string of riverside communities, including Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire and Wyre Piddle in Worcestershire, could be flooded as levels in the Severn and Avon rose. There was also concern about rivers in Devon and Dorset, which were both badly hit by flooding in November.

Further north firefighters helped pump out homes in Market Drayton and near Whitchurch in Shropshire. A few homes were also flooded in north Wales and Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales.

Motorists were rescued from cars in Staffordshire, the Yorkshire Dales and Dorset while eight people were injured in a series of accidents on the M4 in south Wales during a hailstorm.

In North Yorkshire a canoeist was airlifted to hospital after getting into the trouble in the River Swale near Ripon. Rescuers also battled to save 10 sheep from the River Severn in mid Wales.

The Met Office warned that more wetness is approaching courtesy of a deep Atlantic depression. It has issued severe weather warnings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Monday the south-west of England is expected to bear the brunt of the rain again and the Met Office said that because it would be falling on saturated ground, flooding may well follow.

On Tuesday, the south-west is due to be battered again, along with other areas of the south of England and much of Wales. Together with the heavy rain, strong to gale-force winds are predicted to spread across the country. Gales and severe gales are due to cause problems in Scotland on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

It may be cold comfort for those affected by flooding this week but local flood defence schemes across the south-west have received a boost of £721,000. The south-west regional flood and coastal committee, which is made up of local authorities from across the region, will announce the list of projects it will support next month.

Committee chairman James Morrish said: “The increase is a clear statement of the determination to address the backlog of flood defence needs in Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and the Isles of Scilly, particularly following the repeated flooding throughout 2012 which saw over 1,000 properties flooded in 200 locations.”

By the end of the week — exactly 60 years on from the disastrous flood of 1953 that claimed hundreds of lives in the east of England — the Met Office believes the weather should have become calmer but it could be chilly again.

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