Flood warnings to continue into New Year

Flood-hit regions of the UK will continue to face high river levels into the New Year, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.

The levels are expected to gradually fall over the weekend and severe flood warnings in Croston, Lancashire, have been removed.

Parts of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire face a low risk of flooding over the coming days as a result of the River Severn remaining high.

In a bid to combat the threat, the EA has deployed temporary defences in the area.

Earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the body's staff for their "superhuman efforts" to protect homes and businesses from floods.

He was visiting York, which flooded on Boxing Day, explaining he had not come sooner as he had not wanted to get in the way at what was a "critical time" for the emergency services.

York's Foss Barrier, which was knocked out by flooding, has been repaired and flooding in the city has receded.

However, the community is being warned to be vigilant as the River Ouse will remain high over the coming days.

More rain is forecast throughout the weekend, particularly in the south and west of England and Northumberland.

Speaking at the Foss Barrier, Mr Corbyn, said: "We have got a lot of very hard-working engineers and workers for the EA who have made superhuman efforts to try to protect this city, as they have tried to protect other cities all around the country, and I think we should be grateful to them for that."

When he was asked why it had taken him five days to visit York, he said: "I didn't want to get in the way of people doing an emergency job at a highly critical time.

"I think to turn up in the midst of all that is distracting engineers."

He refused to criticise the EA chairman Sir Philip Dilley who was on holiday in Barbados as the country was battered by some of the worst storms it has seen in decades.

In Scotland, the body of a kayaker, a man in his 50s, who went missing during Storm Frank was recovered from the River Findhorn in Moray.

On Wednesday 12 people, including two children, were rescued from a bus after it got stranded in flood water.

Ten passengers were airlifted by a Royal Navy helicopter from the vehicle when it became stuck in Dailly, South Ayrshire, at about 1.35pm on Wednesday.

A further two people were taken off the bus by officers from Police Scotland's marine unit.

Flood waters also affected the village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire near Balmoral Castle, the Queen's summer residence.

Police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of theft after residents concerned about looting from flooded homes raised the alarm.

West Yorkshire Police officers responded to reports in the Mytholmroyd area about a man acting suspiciously near wrecked properties on Wednesday morning.

The EA said the country has experienced an "extraordinary" period of severe weather and flooding since the start of December.

It confirmed that across the north of England more than 7,300 homes had flooded over the last week, as river levels reached all-time highs.

Craig Woolhouse, director of incident management at the EA, said: "Our thoughts go out to those communities dealing with flooding. Thankfully it is now an improving weather picture across most of the country.

"We will continue to work closely with local authorities in the coming weeks to support their recovery efforts and still have teams working around the clock to protect communities and pump away flood water."

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