UK flood cleanup continues, residents hope to avoid more wet weather

By
July 27, 2007 15:26
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Flood-afflicted Britons kept a wary eye on the skies Friday, hoping to avoid more rain as they labored to dry out and clean up their homes and businesses after the worst inundation in more than half a century. The news was not all good: forecasters predicted two days of dry weather, but more rain on Sunday. As water squelched underfoot, homeowners in the worst-affected areas of southern and western England continued to bail water out of their front doors as they awaited a visit from Prince Charles, who has a home in the area. The heir to the throne planned to visit flood victims in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. His country mansion, Highgrove, in Tetbury Gloucestershire, escaped the deluge. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by water and electricity shortages as rivers and drainage systems across southern England were overcome by heavy rains over the past week. Over the weekend "we are expecting up to an inch of rain and the area to get the worst of it could be the south Midlands, already the area that has seen the worst of the flooding," said weather forecaster Tony Conlan. "It's not guaranteed, but it is possible that it will cause further floods." Official figures showed the period from May to July of this year was the wettest since records began in 1766 _ the average countrywide rainfall of 387.6 millimeters is more than twice the 1971-2000 average. The Environment Agency said Friday that water levels in the flood-hit regions were either subsiding or had reached their peak. But despite the signs of an end to their suffering, hundreds of thousands of people remained without drinkable running water. More than 1,000 mobile water tanks have been spread across the flooded regions and the army was distributing millions of bottles of water a day, but frustrated residents complained many of the tanks were consistently empty. Around 10,000 homes in Tewkesbury, one of the hardest-hit areas, have a water supply, but residents have been warned not to drink it. More than 300,000 people have been warned that they must wait at least a week before clean water will flow through their taps again. Officials told people in emergency shelters in Oxfordshire that their properties were now out of severe danger of flooding. Eight flood warnings remain in place across the Thames region, but Windsor _ where the Queen's castle looms over the river _ and London are expected to stay dry. A father and son in Tewkesbury were found dead Thursday, believed to have been overcome by fumes from a gas-powered pump as they cleaned up a rugby club house. A 19-year-old Tewkesbury man who disappeared Saturday after leaving a pub amid the flooding remained missing. A woman in the town lost her premature twins when paramedics could not reach her by road when she went into labor.

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