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Emergency Cobra meeting called to discuss floods
8:31am Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee today in response to the flooding which has torn down power lines, closed roads and deluged homes.
The minister has stepped in to ensure that the Environment Agency (EA) and councils "are on the ground and offering all possible support to their communities" as bad weather continues to hit the UK.
The first storms of 2014 brought further misery after torrential rain and gales left homes flooded and thousands without power over Christmas.
With further warnings of widespread flooding and more severe weather forecast for tomorrow, Mr Paterson will lead a Cabinet Office Briefing Room meeting in London this morning as agencies plan their response to the problem.
He said last night: "We will remain in touch with local councils in at-risk areas.
"With a number of flood alerts for the South East for tomorrow, including several areas which have previously been flooded, I urge everyone in affected areas to sign up to EA flood warnings and follow the advice issued."
It comes as emergency services continue to search for people missing in ferocious weather.
A 27-year-old man is feared dead at Loe Bar, near Porthleven in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea while celebrating the new year on the beach with friends. A woman also died in the surf in Croyde, north Devon on New Year's Eve.
Visitors to coastal areas have been warned to stay out of the sea, while those inland have been braced for localised flooding.
Around 300 properties in the south and east of England were last night without electricity.
The Environment Agency had this morning issued almost 250 flood alerts and 60 more serious flood warnings, covering almost every region of England and Wales.
Flood warnings remain in place for the Lower Stour from Sturminster Marshall to Christchurch and the Middle Stour from Sturminster Newton to Sturminster Marshall.
Craig Woolhouse, the Environment Agency's head of flood incident management, said: "Strong winds and large waves along the west and south coasts of England are forecast between Friday and Sunday, coinciding with high tides.
"Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities.
"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 Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities. Environment Agency teams are out on the ground making sure that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood alerts and warnings."
Weather forecasters have also predicted strong winds, heavy rain and further flooding in the coming days.
There should be a brief respite today, but heavy rain is expected in western areas of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tomorrow as a low pressure system moves in from the Atlantic.
Winds will gust to 50-60mph, the Met Office said, and a combination of lowering pressure and high tides, together with already high levels of ground saturation, bring the risk of flooding.
Flooding affected a number of train services this morning.
There is a reduced service between Redbridge in east London and Romsey in Hampshire, and disruption between Fareham and Southampton Central/Easleigh in Hampshire, because of flooding at Hedge End and Botley, Southern said.
South West Trains said there were no services between Portsmouth and Fareham in Hampshire because of electrical supply problems.
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