UK & World News

  • 4 January 2014, 0:07

Weather: Flood Warnings As Tidal Surges Hit

Hundreds of residents in England and Wales are being urged to evacuate their homes as another violent Atlantic storm batters the British Isles.

Waves six feet above sea level hitAberystwyth in west Wales, and the small town ofBorth seven miles up the coast, causing fears of major flooding and chaos.

AberystwythUniversity said it was deferring the start of examinations for a week because of the extreme conditions.

Also, evacuation sirens have been sounded in Portland, near Weymouth, Dorset.

A spokesman forWeymouth and Portland Borough Council said: "The siren indicates that flooding will be severe with an extreme risk to people and property."

Hundreds of homes have already been flooded across the UK after rivers from Cornwall to Scotland burst their banks.

Sixsevere flood warnings, which indicate a risk to life, are in place for England and Wales as heavy rain and strong winds, combined with exceptionally high tides, struck western parts.

Forecasters warn the weather conditions are set to continue - and worsen over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Government has been forced to deny claims that austerity cuts will hit flood defences - despite reports that hundreds of frontline jobs are being cut.

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The areas worst hit by the floods are the south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, parts of Dorset and Gloucestershire, and Wales.

Emergency services are searching for an 18-year-old man who went missing while taking photographs around the River Yealmestuary at Newton Ferrers, Devon.

Harry Martin was last seen around noon on Thursday, walking in the direction of the coastal path near his home in Membland.

In North Wales, five people were rescued by lifeboat from a flood-hit caravan park in Gwynedd. And four people were rescued from a farm in Llanbedr, near Barmouth.

It came just hours after homes in Newport, South Wales, were evacuated because of the risk of flooding.

Rough seas caused part of a cliff to collapse at Rock-A-Nore, outside Hastings, East Sussex.

The three severe warnings for the South West are near Bournemouth in Dorset.

There are two in Wales, at AberystwythandBorth. And three in Gloucestershire, along the River Severn and its estuary.

More than 300 flood warnings and alerts are also in place, affecting almost every region of England and Wales.

For counties such as Dorset and Gloucestershire that were affected earlier in the day by floods, the evening high tide means further potential problems.

In Christchurch, Dorset, the River Stour burst its banks. Sky's Stephen Douglas, at the scene, said: "A number of homes have been evacuated so people are listening to the warnings hoping it doesn't get any worse than this."

In Burrowbridge, Somerset, the River Parrett burst its banks as did the River Severn in Minsterworth, Gloucestershire.

Some roads in Gloucestershire were "impassable" due to flooding, including in Tewkesbury.

In Cornwall, there has been flooding in areas including Penzance, Newquay, Looe and Polperro and road closures. In Devon, towns including Kingsbridge and Salcombe were affected.

But the situation in the two most southwesterly counties has been slightly better than anticipated, according to the RNLI.

Spokesman Tom Mansell said: "There has been flooding in places like Looe, Kingsbridge and Salcombe but it is not as bad as we had been expecting."

He said a man in Cornwall had a "very lucky escape" when his car was swept away as he wave-watched.

"People think they are in a strong metal box but moving water on tarmac becomes very buoyant," he said.

One man in Penzance was evacuated from his home after it was "severely affected" by floods.

In the South East, Yalding in Kent was deluged again overnight but not on the same scale as over Christmas.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued more than a dozen flood warnings, but no severe flood warnings.

It has also been announced that December 2013 was the wettest month in Scotland since records began in 1910.

Belfast avoided the serious flooding that had been feared after a tidal surge came and went without breaching defences.

But in Coleraine, in Co Londonderry, there were reports of flooding after the River Bann broke its banks.

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