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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"There is no end in sight for this misery"
 real 56k

The BBC's Catherine Marston
"Rivers across the region are still rising and there's more rain to come."
 real 56k

Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 13:54 GMT
Floods 'unlikely to ease soon'
Woman and dog looking out of window onto floods
The army arrives to bolster flood defences in York
The Environment Agency has warned that the flooding misery in many areas of the country is unlikely to ease until next week.

Some 41 severe flood warnings are still in place on 21 rivers, and thousands of people have had to leave their homes.


Britain is still in the thick of a crisis

Sir John Harman
About 5,000 homes and businesses have now been affected, and more heavy rain has been forecast for Wednesday.

Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman said Britain was "still in the thick of a crisis", despite the fact the river levels in some of the worst-hit areas fell overnight.

"This flood has already been the sternest test of the Environment Agency's flood warning and defence systems, and is becoming more so as every hour goes by," he said.

"Our current priority must be to keep warning and protecting people as best we can, in co-operation with the emergency services."

Leeman Road area of York
York residents pitched in to help improve flood defences
In North Yorkshire, still one of the worst-affected areas, the River Ouse peaked overnight at 16ft 8ins above normal, but did not burst its banks.

But police said hundreds of homes in the nearby town of Selby were still evacuated and its War Memorial hospital is being evacuated.

Ambulance crews are now moving all patients to Goole hospital.

Further evacuations took place in the village of Barlby.

The army had been working in the area to shore up defences but 30 soldiers were ordered to stop work for their own safety. They are expected to resume work on Wednesday.

Army Chinook helicopters have also distributed 10,000 tonnes of sandbags to hundreds of homes.

Imminent danger

But police warned that lives and homes were being put in danger by people who had been stealing sandbags from river defences.

They have arrested three men for allegedly damaging or interfering with sandbags.

.In Yalding, Kent, the floods came back for the third time this autumn, while residents in Uckfield, East Sussex were also dismayed to see the waters returning.

People living near the River Thames in Maidenhead, Berkshire, were warned on Wednesday that the stretch of river is expected to overflow flood defences.

The Environment Agency also issued two severe flood warnings in Surrey after the River Wey burst its banks, putting Guildford and Weybridge at risk.

There is also a severe flood warning on the river between Teddington in Middlesex and Shepperton in Surrey.

Janet Dunne starts to clean up her  home in Arklow, Co. Wicklow
For some, the clean up has started
A severe flood warning remains in place on the River Severn between Shrewsbury and Gloucester.

An Environment Agency spokesman said levels were continuing to rise and a high tide in Gloucester on Friday would probably cause flooding problems over the weekend.

Flooding is still causing havoc in the Midlands with water in some areas rising and expected to exceed last week's levels, the agency said.

But Burton upon Trent, where residents in critical areas were last night advised to evacuate their homes, escaped serious flooding as levels on the river fell.

In the North East the flood situation has eased with only the River Wear at Chester-le-Street remaining on a severe warning.

But more rain forecast for Friday and the weekend could repeat the misery for hundreds of homes already affected.

Twelve people have now died in weather-related incidents over the last 10 days.

At a climate change conference in Brussels on Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, told European Union ministers there was a "causal link" between greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and the serious flooding affecting much of Britain.

Mr Prescott also vowed to make 3,000 vacant Ministry of Defence homes available for the victims of floods who are unable to return to their homes.

Travel problems

The bad weather has scuppered chances of resolving the current problems on the rail network. Train operators had hoped to have normal timetables back in place by Wednesday.

Derby has been cut off from the rest of the rail network and the London to Brighton line is blocked for the second day running.

All Midland Mainline trains between Sheffield and London St Pancras have been cancelled because of the floods.

Railtrack said other lines remained closed all over the country, from the Great Western area to the North East region.

Train services between Edinburgh and London also face further disruption after flooding in Doncaster.

Services from London will end at Doncaster, with services from Edinburgh only running as far as Newcastle.

On the roads there are more problems expected in flooded areas.

Floodline: 0845 988 1188

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | UK
Floods cause rail chaos
07 Nov 00 | Scotland
Scotland waits as rivers rise
07 Nov 00 | Wales
Pub hit by flood landslide
06 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Minister defends flood defence record
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