No respite from floods as wind and heavy rain are forecast for weekend

Hundreds of homes were evacuated and residents in other areas were warned to
keep a bag packed in case they had to leave their homes at short notice.

A combination of gales gusting up to 70 miles per hour, along with high spring
tides, sent dangerous tidal surges into coastal areas from the early hours
of Friday.

The worst affected areas in Wales and South West England were braced for a
repeat of the flooding as tides rise again on Friday evening.

The Met Office and Environment Agency both warned the difficult conditions
would continue throughout the weekend.

Spring tides will remain high and winds will continue to gust at more than
50mph as more waves of bad weather sweep in from the West through Saturday
and Sunday.

Waves crash over Ardrossan harbour lighthouse in Ardrossan, Scotland
(Getty Images)

A spokeswoman for the Met Office said: “It’s more of the same really for the
weekend”.

An inch of rain could fall in parts of the country on Saturday onto land that
is already waterlogged and prone to flooding. More than half an inch of rain
is again predicted on Sunday.

People were warned to stay away from beaches, promenades and coastal paths in
parts of Wales and southern and western England.

St Ives, Looe and Polperro in Cornwall suffered flooding with residents
reporting water up to two feet deep. Flooding also occurred in Barnstaple
and Lynton in North Devon, and Kingsbridge in south Devon.

People have been warned to stay away from “highly dangerous”
beaches, promenades and coastal paths in parts of Wales and southern and
western England. Officials predicted the coastal flooding would be the worst
seen for five to 10 years in some regions.

The AA’s Special Operations Response Team tweeted a picture from Fowey,
warning residents to be prepared for the flooding:

Homes in Newport were evacuated as parts of Wales prepared for the highest
storm surges in nearly two decades.

A pregnant woman had to be rescued from a home in Cardigan after flooding
trapped people in their homes.

Waves strike the harbour wall at high tide in Porthcawl during a storm
which will see the highest tide to hit Wales’ coast in a decade (Matthew
Horwood / Alamy)

Joanne Sherwood, from Natural Resources Wales, said: “These are some of
the highest tides since 1997, and on top of that it’s very windy so that’s
causing about a one metre surge on top of the tide.”

Up to 50 caravans were flooded at Carmarthen Bay caravan park, near Llanelli,
South Wales, as the high tide smashed through flood boards put up to plug
gaps in the nearby sea walls.

Men watch as cars pass through flood water created by the River Mole
bursting it’s banks at Jacobs Well in Surrey (LNP)

In Belfast, Northern Ireland police have been delivering sandbags and have
issued a warning to people in the Sydenham and Docks areas to prepare for
potential flooding and the possibility of evacuation.

Residents were also evacuated from a mobile home park in Bournemouth amid
warnings the River Stour could spill its banks.

Flooding in Devonport (Image courtesy of JAMES BRADY/@JIMBOBJ78)

The weather heaped more difficulty on travellers today with road journeys and
rail services disrupted.

Many major roads were flooded, while trains to and from Gatwick Airport in
West Sussex were among those affected.

Electrical supply problems at South Croydon in south London meant delays of up
to 40 minutes on trains between Gatwick Airport and East Croydon, while a
signalling problem at Dorking in Surrey led to hold-ups between Dorking and
Leatherhead.

Pre-Christmas flooding has meant that no trains are able to run on the Isle of
Wight, with services not expected to start again until well into January.

Earlier problems have also led to buses replacing trains between Petersfield
in Hampshire and Haslemere in Surrey, with rail services not expected to
resume until Sunday.

The bad weather meant there were also no trains today between Guildford in
Surrey and Ascot in Berkshire, while flooding meant services were unable to
operate between Paignton and Newton Abbot in Devon or between Liskeard and
Looe in Cornwall.

Waves of more than 30ft were expected to hit Devon and Cornwall, the BBC said,
with authorities declaring in a “major incident” and warning
people to stay away from shorelines, where there are 14 severe flood
warnings and 60 flood warnings.

Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, warned on Thursday that the country was
facing a period of “exceptional” bad weather.

Mr Paterson will today again chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra
emergencies committee.

He said: “Due to the continuing extreme weather, I will be chairing
another Cobra (emergencies committee) meeting today to ensure that
everything that can be done to help affected areas is being done.

“With a number of severe flood warnings still in place I urge everyone to
follow the advice from the Environment Agency and police and to take every
precaution.”

Brighton Pier in West Sussex is battered by stormy weather (REX)

He has also told energy network companies to be prepared, following complaints
that it took too long to restore electricity to the thousands of homes left
without power in the wake of severe weather over Christmas.

Pete Fox, head of strategy at the Environment Agency, said: “We are expecting
flooding along the west and south coasts of England and Wales, due to a
combination of strong winds, large waves and high tides, from the early
hours of Friday and into the weekend.

“Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an
increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away
from the shoreline.”

The storms have already claimed at least two lives. The body of a 27-year-old
man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall. He had been
swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night having gone for a paddle with
friends at nearby Loe Bar.

In a second tragedy on Tuesday, a woman died after being swept out to sea at
the popular beauty spot Croyde Bay in north Devon. The woman, who was
believed to be on holiday with her family, was rescued from the sea and
airlifted to hospital before being confirmed dead by doctors.

Elsewhere, in Dorset a search was carried out for a man who is believed to
have fallen into the River Stour, near Iford Bridge in Christchurch.

A man with a child negotiates the flood waters near Benson, Oxfordshire
after the River Thames bursts its banks (REX)

Electricity network companies could face fines if they are proven to have
taken too long to restore power after the Christmas storms, energy regulator
Ofgem said yesterday (Thurs).

Ian Marlee, senior partner, said the companies had “questions to answer”
over their response to the power cuts, which saw tens of thousands of homes
across the south of England left without power in Christmas Day.

The regulator said it could “take further action” including possible
fines if the companies were found to have failed in their duties.

Under Ofgem rules, network companies must ensure they have sufficient
resources available, including personnel, to operate distribution “properly
and efficiently”.

But Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, the network worst
affected by the Christmas Eve storms, has already admitted that his company “could
and should have done more” to restore power.

He suggested its response was slower than normal because too many of its
engineers were on holiday.

Residents of the Little Venice Caravan Park in Yalding, Kent, pull a
boat through the site as flood waters return to the area after recent bad
weather (PA)

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Network Companies will now provide us with a
detailed report on their response. We will look at these reports ensure any
lessons are learnt which could include taking further action as necessary.”

Bosses of the energy network companies are due to face questions from MPs over
the length of time it took to restore power to homes affected by storms over
Christmas. More than 150,000 homes were cut off after strong winds,
torrential rain and flooding caused damage to power networks.

Electricity network companies could face fines if they are proven to have
taken too long to restore power after the Christmas storms, energy regulator
Ofgem said on Thursday.

Ian Marlee, senior partner, said the companies had “questions to answer”
over their response to the power cuts, which saw tens of thousands of homes
across the south of England left without power in Christmas Day.

The regulator said it could “take further action” including possible
fines if the companies were found to have failed in their duties.

A train travels along the stormy coast near Saltcoats in Scotland (PA)

Under Ofgem rules, network companies must ensure they have sufficient
resources available, including personnel, to operate distribution “properly
and efficiently”.

But Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, the network worst
affected by the Christmas Eve storms, has already admitted that his company “could
and should have done more” to restore power.

He suggested its response was slower than normal because too many of its
engineers were on holiday.

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Network Companies will now provide us with a
detailed report on their response. We will look at these reports ensure any
lessons are learnt which could include taking further action as necessary.”

Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10548343/No-respite-from-floods-as-wind-and-heavy-rain-are-forecast-for-weekend.html