UK & World News

  • 10 February 2014, 22:26

Thames Floods Warning For Thousands Of Homes

Thousands more homes in the South East could be inundated by floodwaters after communities along the Thames were warned river levels will continue to rise over the coming days.

Hundreds of properties in Berkshire and Surrey have already been flooded after the river reached recorded levels in some areas.

Thames Valley Police has declared a "major incident" in East Berkshire after the river burst its banks in several areas.

Datchet, where the military put down a 600 metre long sandbag wall on Sunday, was hit by flooding after the water rose by over half a metre in 24 hours, blocking roads and train tracks.

Residents and shop owners waited for sandbags on Monday night to protect their properties and deliveries were quickly carried away.

Local businesswoman Isabel Gil said: "I would have thought there would be a lot of sandbags all prepared in advance for this situation but they seem like gold dust. I can't get hold of any."

Much of the nearby village ofWraysburywas also under water. Police said they would join boat patrols with fire and rescue personnel overnight.

Around 200 Royal Navy personnel were filling sandbags inChievely, nearNewbury, for distribution along the Thames Valley.

Eighty are transporting those sandbags and building defences inStainesandChertsey, where the water is the highest it has been in over a decade.

The Environment Agency told Sky News at least 400 homes had flooded since Sunday in the South East and 4,000 more were at risk.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles toldMPsthere was a high risk the River Severn andWyewould all also break their banks.

Speaking later, after chairing aCOBRmeeting, he said: "As we continue to face these extraordinary weather events, I want to make clear again this evening that work is being done to identify and prioritise any sites where we may experience problems in the coming days.

"I want to reassure the public that their safety remains our first priority. We are doing everything possible to protect people's homes and communities.

"In addition, strategic sites such as water and electrical plants are being given special attention to ensure that homes are not left without vital resources."

There are 14 severe flood warnings, meaning an imminent danger to life, in place between Datchetand Shepperton Green, while two others remain in Somerset.

More than 300 other flood warnings and alerts have also been issued, including in the South East, South West and the Midlands.

The Thames barrier was closed overnight in order to protect communities west of London.

PaulLeinster, chief executive of Environment Agency, said: "Extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week, with further severe flooding expected Monday evening into Tuesday along the Thames in Berkshire and Surrey.

"River levels are high across south west, central and southern England and further rain has the potential to cause significant flooding."

As far down river as Kingston on the outskirts of London the river is high and rising.

Residents have been evacuated in several areas, including in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, but some people are refusing to leave as they are worried about possible looting.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for further spells of rain, sometimes heavy, and strong winds overnight into Tuesday morning for southern England.

It said: "The public should be aware of the risk of further disruption due to flooding."

:: You can email your photos and videos of the floods to news@sky.com.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

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