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The BBC's Paul Anstiss
"Fifty thousand people across Britain have been affected by the floods"
 real 56k

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Chichester, West Sussex
"The PM outlined his plan for a more co-ordinated strategy"
 real 56k

Friday, 10 November, 2000, 17:51 GMT
Blair pledge for flood victims

Mr Blair met flood victims in Gloucester
Prime Minister Tony Blair has visited some of the areas worst affected by flooding, as the weekend promises more bad weather.

Mr Blair met flood victims in the West Sussex city of Chichester and visited fire-fighters trying to stem the flow of the River Lavant by pumping water out of it.

"We will do everything we can, the money is there and the scheme is prepared," he told residents.

But the prime minister was heckled by some local residents concerned about the flooding.

Tony Blair in flooded home
Mr Blair enters a flood hit home in Gloucester
One protester said: "It's all right for you in your nice warm office but we've waited six years. It will happen again and it will cost millions."

He also visited Gloucester, a city that is already flooded and is in imminent danger of further flooding if the River Severn bursts its banks this weekend.

Mr Blair said the government understood the grievances of people that had been affected by the flood.

He visited the homes of Pauline Danters, Georgina Smith and Arthur Stevens who have been affected by the swollen River Severn.

"That is why I am here," he said afterwards. "We are making money available so we can put flood defences in early. We are still try to get a better warning system in place.

"It is not possible to put flood defences in everywhere, but we want to make sure when things do happen that we can get at least the short term help through."

Geoff Hoon with troops in Yorkshire
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon visits troops on flood duty
More flood misery threatens Britain over the weekend as heavy rain sweeps in, just as water levels in some areas are beginning to subside.

A band of rain is set to cross southern Britain on Friday night and another 48 hours of rain is promised for the hard-hit southern region.

The showers will spread from the South West on Friday, reaching London by nightfall, remaining over the South East for most of Saturday.

Predicted rainfall levels of up to two inches (50mm) could mean disaster for towns and villages that have already been hit hard by widespread flooding.

Weather forecaster Graham Webster said: "Because it's slow-moving, it will sit there and just continue to rain."

Maidenhead
Maidenhead, where several celebrity homes are under threat
The Environment Agency still has 16 severe flood warnings in force on rivers in England and Wales deemed to pose an "imminent danger" to life and property.

More bad news

Forecasters are predicting England and Wales will chalk up the wettest autumn since records began 273 years ago.

The Environment Agency said the area of land under flood waters to the south of York and Selby was now bigger than Lake Windermere.

Flood levels in North Yorkshire continued to drop at a rate of about two centimetres per hour overnight but police warned roads across the county could have been seriously damaged.

In Bangor, north Wales, police said water levels were still high.

Residents in Barlby and Selby take shelter
Yorkshire residents take shelter in a local school
Towns along the River Severn could be threatened by a "combination" of factors at the weekend, the Environment Agency said, including high tides.

Thames Valley Police said there had been no further flooding in Maidenhead, Berks, where 100 properties were thought to be in danger from the River Thames, although they could be at risk again at the weekend.

Almost 15 inches (37cm) of rain has fallen in England and Wales so far this autumn.

The average for the season from the start of September to the end of November is just above 10 inches.

Railtrack warned of continuing closures in Devon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Merseyside, West Sussex and East Anglia.

The company advised commuters to check with train operators before travelling.

Floodline: 0845 988 1188

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See also:

09 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Floods threaten star homes
08 Nov 00 | UK
Floods cause rail chaos
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