River Thames banks burst, London under threat
15 Feb AFP
Flooding has spread along the River Thames and now threatens London,
amid a political row over the handling of devastating winter storms.
The Environment Agency issued 14 severe flood warnings meaning lives
are at risk in the affluent counties of Surrey and Berkshire to the west
of the capital, after the Thames broke its banks. Some areas are already
under water, including parts of the Great Windsor Park, the grounds of
the Queen's castle at Windsor, which itself is built on higher ground.
The Berkshire fire service rescued at least 16 people Monday,
including several from their homes in the flooded village of Wraysbury,
a spokeswoman said.
In the village, residents donned waders and even a full wetsuit as
the waters rose. Some complained that the village had been abandoned by
the authorities, who are already under fire over their handling of
flooding in southwest England. Somerset in southwest England has been
under water for weeks after the wettest January since 1766, and more bad
weather is expected over the coming days.Devastated communities have
criticised the official response, saying more should have been done to
protect their properties from flooding.
The government last week announced STG130 million ($A239.41 million)
in extra funding for emergency repairs and maintenance. On a visit to
Dorset in southwest England, Prime Minister David Cameron called for
calm as he viewed how the military are helping build up sea defences
against weeks of punishing waves. London itself is protected by the
Thames Barrier, although a suburb to the south of the capital, Croydon,
announced plans to divert rising floodwaters caused by heavy rain away
from homes and businesses by pumping them into a pedestrian underpass.