UK floods: South West and Midlands braced as rain pours

High tides, rain and strong winds continue to cause problems as south-west England and the Midlands are braced for floods.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued nine severe flood warnings, which mean there is a "danger to life".

Numerous lower-level flood warnings and alerts have been issued across England and Wales, mainly in southern areas.

There are also Met Office warnings of heavy rain for southern England, south Wales and parts of Northern Ireland.

The Environment Agency said dangerous high tides would affect Westbury, Broadoak and Newnham on the Severn Estuary later on Friday evening.

It warned properties at Weir Green, Minsterworth, Elmore and Longney were also at risk due to the "overtopping of the tidal defences".

Dangerous high tides would affect the south-west coast from Hartland Point in north Devon round Land's End to Plymouth, including Wadebridge and Bude but excluding Truro and Plymouth Barbican, the agency said.

Flooding is "expected" at high tides on Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon, Sunday morning and Monday morning.

A spokeswoman urged residents in the affected areas to check the Environment Agency website as the picture was changing.

Severe warnings are also in place for the area around Ilfracombe, north Devon, and in "low-lying or exposed parts of coastal communities", including Clovelly, Westward Ho!, Watermouth Cove, Combe Martin and Lynmouth.

Water levels there at high tide on Saturday morning - about 07:00 GMT - are expected to be more than 3ft (1m) higher than a previous surge in early January, though waves are not expected to be as large.

Dangerous conditions are expected in all areas two to four hours either side of high tides.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired another meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency committee.

"A number of severe warnings have now been issued and so I urge everyone to listen to all the advice being issued," he said.

"Environment Agency staff are working day and night, alongside the emergency services and other local specialist agencies, to get communities ready for the bad weather."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed "enormous sympathy" for the people who have been living on the Somerset Levels where 25 sq miles (65 sq km) have been flooded for several weeks.

Another Met Office amber rain warning - meaning "be prepared" - has been issued for the area and is valid until 03:00 GMT on Saturday.

Writing in the Western Daily Press, Mr Cameron said: "I know that a great deal of work has been done to try and alleviate the situation but it is not acceptable for people to have to live like this almost four weeks later - and I am not ruling out any option to get this problem sorted out.

"The government is doing everything we can to help people recover as quickly as possible where they have suffered damage to their homes and businesses."


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