Flooding: 'Everything possible being done', says Owen Paterson

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Media captionSome people took to canoes and surfboards to ride the Severn Bore, despite official warnings to stay away

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says "everything possible" is being done to help those affected by flooding - as more bad weather is expected.

The Environment Agency has three severe flood warnings, meaning danger to life, on the Severn estuary, near Gloucester.

Six fishermen were rescued after their boat foundered in "treacherous" conditions off the north Cornish coast.

And a sea angler has been reported missing off the Aberdeenshire coast in "exceedingly rough" conditions.

On Saturday, 150 homes in the South West, South East and Midlands flooded.

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Media captionA crowd gathered as the River Parrett on the Somerset Levels burst its banks

BBC Weather's Alex Deakin warned of "a very high tide" on Sunday morning, with the risk of coastal flooding remaining.

But he said that, overall, things had improved.

Sunday should offer something of a respite with winds continuing to ease down and some sunshine around.

But there was more extreme weather to come, he warned.

An area of low pressure would arrive on Monday, bringing more wind and rain to western areas, while another "fiendish, deep low" would swing across the UK on Tuesday night and Wednesday bringing with it more of the same, he added.

Bus rescue

In Cornwall, French boat Le Sillon lost power and steering when a huge wave smashed through its bridge on Saturday.

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Media captionSophie Long: "I was saying less than two minutes ago we were quite safe here on the decking... but you can see the river already has spilled out"

The RNLI's Padstow lifeboat tried to tow the boat to safety, but the tow line snapped and it was deemed too dangerous to try again.

An RNAS Culdrose helicopter winched five of the crew from the sea, while the sixth was rescued by lifeboat.

On Saturday night, Aberystwyth on the Ceredigion coast suffered flooding and damage to the promenade a month ago and repairs have just been finished.

But 600 university students living on the seafront were either rehoused or accepted the offer to travel home or to another part of the UK for the weekend.

In Newgale, Pembrokeshire, 10 people were rescued after the bus they were travelling in was hit by a large wave on the seafront and surrounded by water. No injuries were reported.

Following a meeting of the government's emergency committee, Cobra, on Saturday afternoon, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "Everything possible is being done over the weekend to help those affected by flooding and to prepare for the further bad weather and high tides forecast overnight and into next week."

There are more than 110 flood warnings and nearly 300 flood alerts in place across the rest of England and Wales, and 14 flood alerts in Scotland.

Kate Marks, the Environment Agency's flood risk manager, said there was a risk of coastal flooding in many parts of England.

"The risk is highest for south-west England, although many coastal areas will be affected and the public should stay away from coastlines and tidal areas and not drive through flood water.

"At the same time the risk of river flooding continues for the southern counties as with the ground already saturated, rivers are very responsive to rainfall."

In Scotland, rescue teams are searching for the sea angler who was night fishing at Tangle-Ha, north of St Cyrus, when he disappeared from rocks.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption The seafront in Stornoway was flooded as large waves overtopped onto coastal roads
Image copyright Sean King
Image caption Large waves topped the wall at Thornton-Cleveleys, near Blackpool, Lancashire
Image caption The promenade was deserted in Aberystwyth as waves hit
Image copyright Chris Jay
Image caption Chris Jay said "the roads were like streams" near Clavering in Essex
Image copyright Caral Phoebe
Image caption Caral Phoebe said the Severn Bore was very fast but will be even bigger on Sunday
Image copyright PA
Image caption The River Avon flooded surrounding roads in Bristol

Around the UK:

  • High winds and heavy rain have caused disruption in parts of Northern Ireland, with a number of roads closed because of flooding
  • On the Isle of Wight, service is suspended on the Island Line between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin because of a landslide
  • Roads closed by flooding in the Western Isles have reopened
  • A landslide at Botley in Hampshire affected train services between Fareham and Eastleigh, with the line likely to remain closed until Wednesday, South West Trains said
  • North Somerset Council said teams had been dispatched along the coast to try to ensure public safety
  • A spokeswoman for Public Health England's Devon, Cornwall and Somerset centre said it was "unsurprising" that samples of flood water had shown the presence of unsafe bacteria, and she recommended those who came into contact with it to wash their hands thoroughly

While the government and the Environment Agency have been criticised by MPs and local councils in Somerset, the agency said it was now running pumps 24 hours a day to drain the huge amounts of water that have made it a miserable start to the year for people living on the Somerset Levels.

Members of all three branches of the armed forces are on stand-by to help villages in Somerset cut off by the floods.

The latest warnings come after the wettest January on record for parts of southern England.

Up to and including 28 January, the South East and central southern England had a record 175.2mm (6.9in) of rainfall in January - beating the previous record of 158.2mm for the same parts of England set in 1988.

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