UK & World News
Environment Agency: Inside The Control Centre
"Many thousands" more properties are likely to be flooded over the next few days as river levels rise in response to more storms, the Environment Agency has warned.
Sky News was given access to the EA's control centre in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, from where staff monitor rainfall across the West Thames area.
The soil is so saturated that water is expected to flow straight off the fields into the river.
Peter Collins, on the flood risk team, said sensors scattered across tributaries and spaced along the main river channel will signal a threat to those living downstream.
"This is our early warning system," he said.
"Because of the escalated circumstances we are living in we are trying to give people a couple of days' notice now so they can prepare to respond to the warnings we are issuing."
Some 165,000 properties have been protected by flood defence schemes over the last four years.
But David Jordan, the director of operations for the agency, says the rain this winter has been so heavy and prolonged that others remain at risk.
He said: "If the worst forecasts over the next few days come true and with all the flood water on plains at the moment, rivers across southern England are going to respond very quickly.
"I have real concerns that potentially thousands more properties may be at risk in the coming days if we get the sort of rain that is anticipated."
The incident room has been operational 24 hours a day since December.
Mr Jordan said staff had been "disappointed" by the criticism of its response to the floods.
Information comes into the hub from across the region, not just from scientific gauges, but also from social media and teams on the ground.
Then they decide how to deploy resources, including pumps and sandbags, to protect areas at highest risk.
The agency has been given an extra £30m to cope with the floods this year and another £100m to build more defences next year.
Funding has been guaranteed up to 2021.
"We can do a lot for that money," said Mr Jordan.
The agency plans for extreme rainfall that might happen just once in a century.
But with climate scientists predicting wetter winters in future - and more housing developments on flood plains - it is under pressure.
"No single flood defence can ever guarantee that flooding won't take place," said Mr Jordan.
"We are reducing flood risk."
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