As the water levels in the south of England decline, the Army will inspect the country’s flood defences within five weeks in order to assess the damage caused by the recent floods.
LONDON —Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond pointed out that in normal circumstances, this sort of work would take two years, so the military will carry out the inspections at a breakneck speed. It has also been pointed out that in the case of a repeated flooding, the Army will take action sooner.
Hammond also added that the government, alongside with the Environment Agency of the Royal Engineers, will start inspecting flood defences from February 24. Approximately 200 military personnel are expected to be involved in the action.
David Cameron has also commented on the floods, saying they were “a tragedy for all those affected”.
After he’d attended a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee, the Prime Minister said that it was his hope that flood prevention measures undertaken in recent days would “minimise the number of homes and businesses affected by the latest high water levels”.
There are still expectations of rain, but not nearly as high as what people in Somerset, Berkshire and Surrey have experienced. Still, to be on the safe side, a yellow rain warning for south-west England has been issued by the Met office.
According to The Environment Agency, the “overall picture is starting to improve as river levels stabilise”. Sixteen severe flooding warnings are still in place — mainly along the areas of Thames and two more in Somerset. More than 300 lower-level warnings have been issued throughout the country.
Although the storms might have passed, there are still significant railway disruptions. Cancellations and delays have been reported on many routes.
February 14 saw three victims of the unforgiving weather. James Swinstead, 85, from Colchester, Essex, died when waves breaking into the cruise ship MS Marco Polo in the channel. According to his widow, Helen, the ship was “badly maintained” and “four windows blew”.
Julie Stilltoe, 49 and mother of three, was killed when falling masonry hit the taxi she was in. The accident happened in Central London.
Labour leader Ed Miliband expressed hope that the tragedies proved further how climate change is turning into a “national security issue” for the UK.
“That means uniting as a country behind a national effort to do more to defend against the floods, to invest in clean energy and to show leadership internationally to persuade other countries to be part of the fight against climate change,” Miliband commented.
— Antonia Velikova, Correspondent (Europe)
Image Courtesy: Dr Iain Lees [CC-BY-2.0 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flooding,_Sunderland_Hall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1593017.jpg)], via Wikimedia Commons; Dr Ian Patterson [CC-BY-2.0 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Morton%27s_Leam_and_Flooding_-_geograph.org.uk_-_665820.jpg)], via Wikimedia Commons; Dr Trevor Rickard [CC-BY-2.0 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winter_flooding_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1372581.jpg)], via Wikimedia Commons