Britain is braced for more heavy rain today, compounding the effects of what is now the wettest early summer on record.
Figures from the Met Office today show that the period from May to July of this year, which has seen the worst flooding in modern times, was the wettest since records began in 1766 – even before the month is over.
There are also fears that subsiding waters could leave a legacy of disease. Forecasters warned that spells of heavy rain were again on the way today – including in areas already suffering the effects of the floods.
The Met Office figures show that 387.6mm of rain have already fallen across England and Wales. Forecasters said a band of heavy rain would move across central and southern England during the morning and early afternoon today. The worst of the day’s heavy rain is expected to fall south of the areas currently worst affected – with up to 30mm likely in parts of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.
But communities in Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire were also in line for a heavy spell, with some parts the southern Cotswolds facing up to 20mm, Met Office forecaster Nigel Bolton said. But he added: “This particular spell of rain should go through relatively quickly for most places.”
With Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service confirming that waters in Oxford had begun to subside, experts warned of the dangers of disease left behind.
Virus expert Dr Ken Flint of Warwick University has said the elderly, very young and infirm were at risk from potentially lethal bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella that would be left behind in the sludge. He said the health implications meant it was vital the hundreds of thousands of flood victims maintained a strict hygiene regime.
Floods expert Professor Ian Cluckie said: “People need to realise this is raw sewage they are walking around in. “I’ve seen pictures of kids walking around in the flood water. For God’s sake don’t let them.”
Hundreds of thousands of new homes will be built on FLOOD PLAINS under plans announced yesterday. Future developments in high-risk areas were not ruled out as ministers pledged three million extra properties by 2020. The announcement came as insurers revealed that 800 major projects went ahead against their advice last year alone.
The Government has vowed to over-rule councils who go against warnings. But the scope of the planned explosion in homes across Britain means some will have to be built close to rivers.
Housing minister Yvette Cooper warned the floods should not be used as an excuse to “whip up hostility” to new housebuilding. She said: “No one should be in doubt about the historic scale of this vision.”
Two people have died after trying to pump flood water out of a rugby club, the fire service said. The victims, in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, were using a petrol-powered pump because they had no electricity and are thought to have been overcome by the fumes.
Meanwhile, flood-stricken communities are facing another day of chaos as they wait for the water levels to drop. There are also more than 340,000 people facing the prospect of no clean water at home for up to two weeks, which is leading to growing fears about sanitation and health.