Flooding continues to threaten UK
- 4 January 2014
- From the section UK
High tides and strong winds have brought flooding to Wales, Scotland and western England as officials warn of a continuing threat in parts of the UK.
There are four severe flood warnings - meaning "danger to life" - for Gloucestershire and Dorset.
Residents in parts of Dorset and Aberystwyth were evacuated from their homes ahead of high tide on Friday night, which has now passed.
About 100 people took shelter for high tide at a school in Aberystwyth and a community centre eight miles (13km) away in Borth, where waves peaked at up to 6ft (1.8m).
In Northern Ireland, high tides and strong winds caused some flooding in coastal areas but the tide peaked without any major flooding in Belfast.
There were high tides and flooding in streets in Devon and Cornwall, but Tom Mansell, of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), 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.
Mr Mansell reiterated messages from the emergency services and the Environment Agency that the biggest danger was from people going to the coast to look at the sea.
"They don't understand how dangerous the sea can be," he said. "We would say 'please, please keep away from this water'."
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said the Environment Agency will protect front-line flood defence services despite the agency confirming hundreds of job cuts.
About 1,500 jobs will be lost at the agency although it is not clear how many flood-related posts will go.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said that while it was spending £2.3bn tackling the risk of flooding and coastal erosion, the agency was making its own choices about "how best to use their resources".
The Environment Agency has issued more than 300 lower-level flood alerts and warnings across England and Wales.
The severe flood warnings relate to areas in Dorset, the River Severn in Gloucestershire and coastal areas of Wales.
The Met Office has warned of rain and wind in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired the government's emergencies committee Cobra to discuss the weather situation.
The hour-long meeting was told 3,500km (2,170 miles) of coastal flood defences had been tested by Thursday night's storms and 130,000 homes had been protected.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted he was ensuring that flood help was fully in place.
In other developments:
- Residents of Chiswell and Portland, in Dorset, evacuated their homes ahead of the high tide there at 22:00 GMT
- Police have named a missing teenager in Devon as 18-year-old Harry Martin, who was last seen in Membland, Newton Ferrers, on Thursday, walking towards a coastal path. It is believed he was in search of weather-related photos
- About 30 properties were flooded in Cardigan, where a pregnant woman was rescued
- Four families had to be evacuated from their homes in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, after lightning struck a block of flats
- The Thames Barrier was reopened at about 16:00 GMT after being closed earlier in the afternoon for high tide
- Bristol City Council has put in place its flood barrier kit for the first time, along Avon Crescent where it meets the Cumberland Basin
- The River Severn burst its banks at Minsterworth, in Gloucestershire
- The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued more than 20 flood warnings, but none of them is "severe"
The latest band of wind and rain comes after thousands of homes suffered power cuts, with some cut off for several days, and many properties were flooded following bad weather during the Christmas period.
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Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution have announced compensation arrangements for those affected by power cuts over Christmas.
"We are extending our goodwill payments so that any customer who was without electricity for any time on Christmas Day, regardless of the duration of the power cut, will be guaranteed £75," the company said.