UK storms: Giant waves hit amid fresh flooding fears
- 7 January 2014
- From the section UK
Huge waves have battered southern and western coasts of the UK, as forecasters warn exposed areas could see a fresh round of flooding.
Waves of up to 27ft (8m) were recorded off Land's End, Cornwall.
The environment secretary said seven people had died and 1,700 homes had been flooded in England due to storms and flooding in December and January.
There are currently three severe flood warnings in place in England and travel by road and rail is being hit.
In Aberystwyth, all buildings along the promenade have been evacuated after Natural Resources Wales (NRW) warned of an "exceptional" wave swell expected later.
Western and southern areas have borne the brunt of the latest severe weather, with flooding leaving some villages in Somerset cut off, properties flooded in Cornwall, rivers bursting their banks in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and residents forced from their homes in the centre of Salisbury, Wiltshire.
The Environment Agency has warned communities in Dorset, Oxfordshire, south Wiltshire, Hampshire and along the Thames to "remain prepared" for more flooding on Monday and the rest of the week.
Check if this is affecting your journey
The latest travel disruption includes:
- Damage to railway lines caused by recent high winds and heavy rain is affecting Arriva Trains Wales services in many Welsh regions
- Buses are replacing trains on Northern Rail services between Carlisle and Workington, with disruption expected to last up to a week
- Island Line services on the Isle of Wight are suspended until further notice because of severe flooding in the Ryde area
- A recent landslip caused by poor weather means buses are replacing Southern trains between Horsham and Dorking
- The Rail Delivery Group, which speaks on behalf of the rail industry, said despite localised flooding and weather damage, 96% of scheduled services were operating
- Major roads in areas including North Ayrshire, Pembrokeshire, Oxfordshire, West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, Norfolk, Wiltshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset, Dorset and Devon are closed because of flooding
Around the UK:
- The search for Harry Martin, 18, missing since going out to take pictures of stormy seas in Devon, has continued for a fourth day
- A woman and her dog stranded in a house on the Somerset Levels for 13 days have been rescued by boat
- A West Sussex beach has been cordoned off after strong tides damaged recently completed sea defences
- High tides and strong winds caused difficult driving conditions in Northern Ireland, but Belfast escaped major flooding
- The Thames Barrier was closed for the ninth tide in a row but has now reopened
- The harbour master at Newquay, Cornwall, said so much sand had been lost from the harbour that it had exposed a boat wreck never seen before. Cornwall Council says the storm has caused £1.5m of damage so far
- The Thames Coastguard says "about nine" World War Two explosives have washed on to an Essex beach following the storms
There are currently three severe flood warnings for parts of Dorset - indicating danger to life and property - for the Lower Stour, Chiswell and Preston Beach near Weymouth.
The Met Office has yellow weather warnings - the lowest of its three levels - in place for wind and rain for south and south-eastern England.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired a Cobra emergency meeting to ensure agencies are ready to respond, and made a statement to the Commons on the impact of the bad weather.
Mr Paterson told MPs there was "a risk of groundwater flooding in Dorset and Wiltshire for some time to come and we need to remain vigilant".
"Approximately 1,700 properties have been flooded in England so far, with Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset particularly affected, although there were also impacts in the Midlands and the North West," he said.
There had also been flooding in Northern Ireland and Scotland and 140 properties in Wales flooded, he said.
Mr Paterson said the country's electricity network operators deserved credit for reconnecting "unprecedented" number of people cut-off, but added there were "lessons to be learned about how customers are supported and informed during power cuts".
He again defended spending on flood defences, following criticism over the weekend, saying the government was spending "more than ever before".
Prof David Balmforth of the Institution of Civil Engineers told the BBC: "I don't think we've woken up to the increased threat of flooding in the future due to climate change.
"What we're seeing today as a rare event is likely to become much more frequent in the future and therefore it's important that we do continue to invest in flood defences."
Rebecca Davies, pro vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said about 150 students in seafront accommodation had been moved to another campus and a further 100 in private homes have also left.
Exams scheduled for this week have been postponed until next week, she said, and students who have not yet returned to the university are being urged to stay away until the middle of the week.
The village of Muchelney, on the Somerset Levels, has been cut off for about four days.
Residents David and Tracey Bradley said they were making daily trips in their canoe to fetch essential supplies.
"It's pretty desolate really, especially for the elderly and the children," said Mrs Bradley.