London – Hundreds of people have been evacuated by the British Army from waterlogged homes across Britain as heavy rainfall plus river levels are causing misery, not only in rural areas, but also in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Manchester. The government said on Sunday it was deploying 200 extra soldiers to help people in the affected areas. 300 soldiers were already on ground. A thousand more troops are on stand-by should the situation worsen.
“We will do everything we can to help people in this, their hour of need,” vowed Prime Minister David Cameron, who will visit some regions affected by the flooding on Monday.
Mr. Cameron directed a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee on Sunday, where he discussed the catastrophe with cabinet ministers, military and transport authorities, as well as emergency services leaders and the Environment Agency. The Prime Minister praised the work of the army alongside emergency services, but he remarked the importance of sending extra soldiers to make sure people have the support they need. He added that investment in flood defense would certainly continue, since extreme weather events remain a threat for the island.
“Whenever these things happen, you should look at what you’ve spent, look at what you’ve built, look at what you’re planning to spend, look at what you’re planning to build, and ask whether it’s in the right places, whether it’s enough, whether we’re doing everything we can to try and help”, Mr. Cameron told the BBC.
It is true that heavy rainfall is not something new to the British, but this time, the effects have spread beyond rural areas, where people were accustomed to floods. York was the most affected area this weekend, with rising water levels in its two rivers: Foss and Ouse. The last is over 5 meters above its normal levels and is expected to reach 5.3 meters by Monday midday.
Floodwater submerged lots of shops and pubs and even reached historical buildings. The military along with the police and mountain rescue teams joined forces on Sunday to help evacuate people and reinforce York’s flood defenses with sandbags, as reported by The New York Times. Authorities closed twenty roads and an estimated of 3,500 properties were considered as vulnerable to the rising waters. Hundreds of people in York have been taken to emergency rest centers.
In northern England thousands of homes are now without power and electricity officials required families to turn off Christmas lights and use household appliances in order to save energy.