Southern England’s Flooded Counties Face Further Heavy Rainfall

Feb 09, 2014 7:01 pm ET

Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Heavy rain and strong winds are still battering waterlogged parts of southern England, with some areas around the River Thames now at risk of flooding.

Two months of rain and storms have drenched the U.K., and the Environment Agency yesterday had severe flood warnings in place for 16 locations in England and Wales, including 14 along the Thames. There were also 159 medium-risk warnings and almost 260 low-risk alerts.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week visited the worst- hit county of Somerset, where about 60 houses were evacuated. His government faced criticism for cutting funds for flood defenses and failing to do enough to avert disaster, including the dredging of riverbeds.

There is a high flood risk on the Somerset Levels “with a high likelihood of continued severe impacts,” the agency said yesterday.

More than 7,500 U.K. homes have been engulfed, and coastal defenses battered, since the start of December. The southeast had its wettest January on record and the east coast was hit by the biggest tidal surge in 60 years. Tides in Wales were the highest since 1997. All roads to the communities of Muchelney and Thorney in Somerset have been cut off since Christmas Eve.

Landslides and floods are also hampering rail travel, with operators CrossCountry, First Great Western, South West Trains, and Southeastern hit by delays, according to the National Rail Enquiries website.

The rail line between Exeter St. Davids and Newton Abbot, connecting the cities of Plymouth and Penzance to the rest of England, isn’t expected to reopen until March 18, after an 80- meter (260-foot) section of sea wall collapsed under the track at Dawlish last week.

A landslip yesterday reduced train services between Hereford in England and Abergavenny, Wales, according to National Rail.

--Editors: James Amott, Heather Langan