Floods Still Threaten South England

Yesterday the Environment Agency (EA) warned that further flooding can be expected in southern England over the coming days. High river and groundwater levels mean that even small amounts of rain could result in further flood incidents. The UK’s Met Office are predicting at least some rain for this coming week.

The EA consider the areas of Dorset, South Wiltshire, Somerset and the Thames Valley to be at highest risk and asked that residents remain vigilant. Groundwater levels were of particular concern near the River Avon, Tilshead and Wylye, and also in Solent and South Downs area.

Flood Warnings

There are currently 45 flood warnings in England and Wales, with 30 of them for South East England, mostly in areas along the River Thames in the Thames Valley.

There are also 94 (lower level) Flood Alerts, again, with 66 of them for the South East England area.

River Levels

River levels remain high – in some places the River Thames levels are the highest since 2003 – but at least some levels are falling (slowly).

Hopefully the heavy rain has passed and river levels will be allowed to drop further. The EA warned that river levels remain a concern in Hampshire, West Berkshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire and along the River Severn in Worcester and Gloucestershire.

Somerset

Somerset was one of the worst hit areas, particularly the Somerset Levels area, which has been under water since early January 2014. Some villages have been completely cut off. The EA confirmed that water levels are still high in the area, but are at least beginning to fall as a result of pumping. Authorities have drafted in the use of over 60 pumps.

A local newspaper, The Western Daily Express, says that the recent flooding in Somerset is the worst ever seen.

the Somerset Levels are under 65 million cubic metres of water – an astonishing amount given a single cubic metre is equivalent to 220 gallons.

Given figures like that, the Somerset Levels area looks likely to be under water for a good while yet.

Elsewhere in England, Oxford has also suffered badly as a result of the flooding. In some places it was said to be over 1 metre. Many people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Cost to Lives and Property

Britain has endured an unusual series severe weather since October 2013, bringing with it coastal and river flooding, as well as storm and wind damage. Eight people are now thought to have died in the recent severe weather. More than 1,700 properties have been damaged by the floods in England since mid December 2013 and 640 since early January 2014. The EA statement stressed that their flood defences have helped to protect 240,000 properties.

As far as the cost to insurance companies, The Daily Telegraph suggest the series of storms since October will cost the UK insurance industry an estimated £400 million. Around 130 churches have already made insurance claims worth a total of around £500,000 after being damaged in the floods.

At RSA, the insurance company and owner of More Than, says that the severe weather in UK and USA will cost the company around £35 million.