Flooding fears as more heavy rain forecast


More heavy rain across the country could cause further flooding, the Environment Agency has warned.

The latest warning comes as agency chiefs are set to be quizzed by MPs on the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee about recent flooding which swamped around 16,000 homes in England.

Chairman Sir Philip Dilley, who faced criticism for holidaying in Barbados during the recent storms, will join chief executive Sir James Bevan and deputy chief executive David Rooke before the committee.

MPs are also hearing evidence from local representatives from Cumbria, parts of which were badly hit by repeated flooding as a series of storms and heavy bands of rain swept across the UK.

December ended up as the wettest month in records stretching back more than a hundred years for the UK, with almost double the normal amount of rainfall falling nationwide, causing flooding to homes and businesses and washing away cars, roads and bridges.

And there is still no let-up for some areas, with heavy rain and showers expected across England and Wales overnight and through tomorrow morning.

Falling on already saturated ground, the rain could cause more floods and disruption, compounding the misery for flood-affected communities.

The Environment Agency has warned of the potential for further flooding in parts of the south west, Midlands and north east of England, and has more than 20 flood warnings and more than 100 alerts in place across England.

The agency said it has teams on the ground, pumping away flood water, repairing damaged defences, clearing river blockages, monitoring water levels and sending out flood warnings.

Pumps are still being used in parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire to pump away flood water, while temporary flood barriers are still in place on the River Severn at Shrewsbury and Bewdley.

Clare Dinnis, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Our thoughts are with all those who have been flooded during the last month. Environment Agency teams are working around the clock to protect communities, repairing flood defences, clearing blockages and pumping away flood water.

"The £26 million Morpeth flood alleviation scheme in Northumberland is being operated for the first time since its completion in August 2015."

And she urged people to stay away from flood water and never drive through it, warning just 30cm (1ft) of flowing water was enough to move a car.

The flooding has prompted renewed debate over funding for flood defences, the response by officials and the growing risk of extreme weather in the face of climate change.

December Wettest Month for More Than a Century - Met Office