UK & World News
Weather: Military Used To Boost Flood Defences
Members of the armed forces have been brought in to help with sandbag defences in flood-hit areas of Somerset.
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that 40 Royal Marines had joined relief efforts on Thursday evening as further severe weather is set to hit southern England and Wales.
They are due to put out nearly 1,000 sandbags along a mile-long stretch of the retaining wall at Stanmoor Bank near Burrowbridge to prevent overtopping by flood waters.
Thirteen people have had to be rescued from their vehicles after getting stranded in flood waters in the Somerset Levels, which have experienced flooding since December.
Severe weather alerts have been put in place for southeast England, the South West and Wales overnight. Parts of Somerset and Dorset could be hit by up to 20mm of rain in just three hours.
Residents are being evacuated from Northmoor, Fordgate and Saltmoor on the Somerset Levels, with many set to spend the night in an emergency rest centre in Bridgwater.
A Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesman said: "We can confirm that around 40 Royal Marines from 40 Commando based in Taunton have been deployed to affected areas to provide general flooding assistance.
"This assistance will support a range of tasks, including sandbagging and moving householders' property to higher levels."
It comes as Environment Agency (EA) chairman Lord Smith announced he will visit the area on Friday, his first trip to the region since it was hit by flooding.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will visit Somerset "when the time is right" and insisted his top priority was co-ordinating the Government's response to the flooding.
He said: "When it's right for me to visit I'll be there, don't worry.
"I think it's absolutely vital. We've had ministerial visits in the past and there'll be more to come but the most important thing right now is to co-ordinate all the effort for people in Somerset."
The Met Office has warned that two turbulent weather systems are due to strike Britain, bringing strong winds and rain in their wake and threatening more misery for flood victims.
Resident Maria Mae, from Fordgate in Somerset, told Sky News she was "living like a refugee", after she and her husband woke up at 2am to find their cottage under three feet of water, and human faeces coming up from the septic tank.
She said: "We couldn't do it anymore, so we decided to just move out. It's terrible.
"We moved to this beautiful place to retire, because we love Somerset. It's so devastating to see it going underwater.
"I am living like a refugee at the moment out of five bags. My husband cried his eyes out. He was crying like a baby. I have no idea where we are going to go."
Michael Price, who has lived in Moorland for more than 40 years, told Sky News he had never seen the flood waters so high, but he was currently refusing to leave his home.
"It's going to have to be a further major catastrophe before we decide to evacuate," he said.
Across the UK there was 7.2 inches of rain in January, 51% higher than the average for the first month of the year, and it rained on 23 of 31 days during the month.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles made a statement at Westminster on the flooding, telling MPs that in the short term the Government would be making available an extra £130m for emergency repairs and maintenance.
Ireland has also been battered by stormy weather - video has emerged of a dog walker being swept off her feet when a wave smashed over a wall in Tramore, County Waterford.
Work has been continuing to restore power to the hundreds of properties cut off after the second city, Cork, was inundated for the third time in five days.
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