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Britain drowning in near-Biblical flood

More than 1500 people have been evacuated and power supply to 45,000 homes has been cut off for safety reasons, reports Vijay Dutt.
None | By Vijay Dutt and agencies
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2007 05:43 AM IST

Torrential rain last week has led to waterlogging all over, with water levels in the worst hit areas being described as critical, and nine flood warnings issues across the central and western counties.

More than 1500 people have been evacuated to the Oxford United’s football stadium, while power supplies to 45,000 homes have been cut off for safety reasons. Ironically, amid the downpour over 150,000 homes have been deprived of water supply after the Mythe Water Treatment Works in Tewkesbury flooded.

Hysterical demands for millions of sandbags, draining of waterlogged streets, and more flood defences were coming in from various parts of the country, specially Gloucestershire where too residents were evacuated from low-lying areas after the river Severn, the longest in Britain, threatened to overflow.

Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, was under water. Large areas of Oxfordshire were bracing for floods.

“We understand things are going to get worse before they get better,” said Simon Belcher, a spokesman for Oxfordshire Fire Service.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers said that insurers had paid out £1.3 billion in 2000 and £2 billion in 1990.

This year, losses from Friday’s flooding alone could cost “hundreds of millions”, in addition to the £1.5 billion costs of the floods in June.

“It could well be our biggest year so far. At the moment it isn’t but we are only in July,” she said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who toured Gloucestershire announced that the government will formally review the flooding, concentrating on drainage and protecting infrastructure from further flooding.

“The situation is looking critical at the moment. Unfortunately the misery is set to continue,” said Environment Agency spokesman Joe Giacomelli.

Train routes in several areas have been suspended, and replacement bus services have been canceled because of waterlogged roads.

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