Marines deployed on Somerset Levels to aid flood protection

A flooded farm in Moor Land, Somerset
Image caption Farmers are battling to protect their homes and livelihoods

Royal Marines have been deployed on the Somerset Levels to help reinforce defences at properties at risk from flooding.

Troops from 40 Commando were called in to help set out sandbags in the village of Burrowbridge.

Two severe flood warnings remain in place in the area as efforts to evacuate properties continue.

Further heavy rain is forecast for the region with up to 40mm predicted to fall overnight.

Residents of Fordgate, North Moor, Salt Moor and Moorland have been encouraged to leave their homes, while a rest centre has been established in Bridgwater for those who have been displaced.

The Environment Agency said 40 properties in the county were flooded and fire crews rescued three people from their home near Burrowbridge earlier.

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Media captionSomerset resident Maria Maye: "I feel like a refugee"

'Slow torture'

Overnight, rescue crews used inflatable boats and other equipment to evacuate a number of families from their homes as well as rescue motorists stuck in floodwater.

In Ruishton, a woman with chest pains was rescued in an inflatable boat, two people were rescued from the bonnet of their car in Thornfalcon and a water rescue team had to evacuate a flooded property in Moorland.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for further rain in the region

In a statement to Parliament, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said more money would be made available for emergency repairs and the maintenance of flood defences.

The government is to spend £10m on urgent flood work in Somerset which will be part of a wider £130m spend over the next two years on recovery, repairs and defence maintenance.

For the days ahead, the Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for the Somerset Levels lasting until Saturday.

The Reverend Jane Haslam, vicar of St Peter and St John Church in Moorland, said: "It is so emotional for the people out there but they are resilient.

"One of the residents described it as 'a slow torture' as they could see the water approaching slowly and there was nothing they could do about it.

"My phone has been red hot with people calling from other churches in Somerset asking what they could do to help."

Image caption A herd of 550 cattle has been moved to Sedgemoor market, away from their flooded Moorland farm
Image caption Animals were rescued by tractor in the village of Moorland

'Potential tragedies'

Farmers on the Levels have said they are battling to run their businesses while trying to protect their homes and buildings from floodwater.

Beef farmer James Winslade has been forced to move his 550 cattle to Sedgemoor market, five miles away, as water overwhelmed his land.

James and Becky Hall tweeted overnight that Moorland and Fordgate "will no longer exist - we are losing this fight".

The Environment Minister, Lord De Mauley, has warned of "potential tragedies" for animals caught in the floods.

Responding to a suggestion from the independent peer Lady Mar that plans should be drawn up for an evacuation of animals from the worst-hit farms, he said: "We are also facing some potential tragedies with our farms and... with the animals on those farms.

"The county council and the emergency services are working as best they can but people must come first."

In a separate development John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, has announced the Congresbury Yeo Tidal Banks flood defence scheme has been approved for construction by 2015.

He said: "This is great news for local residents. Weston's new flood defences have done a great job in keeping us a great deal drier than the rest of Somerset.

"But if the old defences on the Congresbury Yeo give way, the floods could take all the villages between Sand Bay and Congresbury itself, including parts of Worle."

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