Communities along River Thames battle to stay above water

Hundreds of homes along the River Thames remain flooded, but in some areas the waters have receded. BBC News took to the road through Surrey and Berkshire to assess the damage after a week of unprecedented scenes.

The journey began in Staines-Upon-Thames. The Magna Carta School was a hive of activity with military personnel, police and council workers among those giving and receiving orders at a flood relief centre.

Military vehicles were visible from the off as troops headed out to areas in immediate need.

The BBC's Katy Watson said: "Companies from as far away as Worcester have donated sand and materials - more than 400 tonnes have been delivered.

"There is an efficient production line of people filling the bags."

Flood rescue efforts in Staines Volunteers from Khalsa Aid fill sandbags at a flood control centre set up at The Magna Carta School in Staines-Upon-Thames
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A short journey upstream and along the A30 to Egham told a similar story.

Roads were cut-off and normally busy interchanges deserted.

The Runnymeade Roundabout was one example of a route impassable except to the odd brave pedestrian or driver.

Approach to The Runnymeade Roundabout in Egham Approaches to The Runnymeade Roundabout in Egham were flooded on Saturday morning

Opportunist traders advertised flood pumps for sale, but as in nearby Staines, few were out to fight their way through the still strong winds.

Much of Runnymeade Park, where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, was a watery meadow.

Had it not been for one hardy rambler equipped with walking stick and waders, the footpath across would have been invisible.

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Across the border into Berkshire, the village of Wraysbury was the next stop.

Mid-morning sunshine may have given residents a brief respite from a week of relentless flooding, but the relief effort was still visible as police and troops stood toe-to-toe manning the most treacherous routes.

The aptly-named Welley Road, which days earlier had been transformed into a lake, was now passable to all traffic.

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Datchet flooding before and after The Green in Datchet returns to a more familiar sight (right) following flooding on Monday (left)

Less than two miles away in Datchet, business was beginning to return to normal.

On Monday, news crews and photographers from across the country descended on The Green as the centre of the village found itself submerged.

Five days on, the streets and grass around the war memorial were visible again.

The clean-up was under way and a sole news crew from CNN was the only broadcast media presence.

Flood clear up begins in Datchet Julie West, owner of The Outfit clothing store in Datchet, opens a flood relief point for residents affected in the area

Among those helping plan for the aftermath was Julie West, owner of The Outlet clothing store.

"It's not worth bringing stock back in at the moment, as we just don't know when the water might return," she said, standing on her empty shop floor.

"The attention's now shifted to helping who we can.

"I've opened up as a drop-off stop to the community flood appeal and others have joined the scheme.

"People have really looked out for one another in the last week. The community spirit has been unbelievable."

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The final stop was the outskirts of Reading, where reservists from the 7th Battalion The Rifles were busy at work in Burghfield Bridge.

Armed forces minister Mark Francois dropped by to see troops hard at work laying sandbags and building a dam to plug a hole in a weir pool close to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Reservists from The Rifles at Burghfield Lakes Reservists from 7th Battalion The Rifles work to reinforce a sandbag dam in Burghfield, near Reading

Homes and an electricity substation have been protected by the structure for the last week.

Commanding officer, Lt Col James Bryant said: "We've got a really strong relationship with the emergency services, the public have also been digging in to help.

"We were here last week and the job this weekend has been to return and make sure water does not flow towards the lakes around Pingewood substation."

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