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UK weather: marines drafted in to aid with evacuation of Somerset Levels



Royal Marines have been deployed on the Somerset Levels to help reinforce flood defences, with residents in the area encouraged to evacuate. The chairman of the Environment Agency also visited the flood-hit region on Friday.

Heavy rain last night led to residents in the village of Moorland being evacuated. People in Northmoor, Fordgate and Saltmoor have also been urged to leave their homes. Further weather warnings have been issued for both heavy rain and high winds across the region.

Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, visited the Somerset Levels today following criticisms about the way the organisation has handled the flood and protected the area. Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Somerset, labelled Smith a “coward” and added, “He should go.

Speaking at the Willows and Wetland Visitor Centre in Stoke St Gregory, Smith said he had no intention of resigning and that he was very proud of the work the Environment Agency has done.

Writing in the Telegraph earlier this week, he said, “There are no-quick fixes to reducing flood risk in the face of this kind of extreme rainfall – particularly on the Somerset Levels – government, Environment Agency, local authorities, drainage boards, and landowners – need to work together, and contribute together, if we’re to solve the problem.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced £30m of further government funding to help the areas devastated by the floods on Thursday. However, Labour responded by saying the extra money simply “reverses” cuts already made to the flood defence budget.

The Met Office has also warned that torrential rain and strong winds are likely to bring flooding to areas of the UK that have so far managed to avoid the worst of the weather.

Further reading:

UK weather: flood warning for so far largely untouched London and south-east

UK weather: rain shows ‘no signs of abating’ as military moves to Somerset’s aid

Dawlish: the Beeching axe’s disastrous economic impact on the south-west

Eric Pickles reveals extra £30m funding for flood repairs

UK weather: south-west braced for torrential downpours