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2001: UK braced for more flooding
Towns and villages in Cambridgeshire and Essex have been kept on flood alert as forecasters predict more torrential downpours following what experts say are the worst floods in 20 years.

Already damage which will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair has been caused to properties near rivers in East Anglia.

Braintree in Essex has been worst hit with 70mm of rain falling in six-hours. Many residents were stranded when roads and villages were cut off.

Flood warnings

Torrential rain is expected to continue over the next few days.

Flood warnings have been issued for the rivers Cam, Colne and Roman, Chelmer, Blackwater and Brain, Pant, Tendring and Stour peninsulas, Stour Brook and the Stour.

Environment Agency regional flood watch manager Jonathan Wortley said: "The biggest problems for us are in the Braintree area. Now it is getting into the tributaries and we are getting people flooded as a result of upper areas of rivers flooding."

A police spokesman said: "The emergency services have been very busy through the night and remain busy. We were notified of around 200 roads that were affected by flooding and we are urging drivers to take care."

South Cambridgeshire council is continuing to distribute sandbags to residents and businesses - at times as many as 400 in half an hour.

One man, David Pickett from Chapel, near Colchester, had to be rescued when he was swept away by floodwater. The 27-year-old managed to grab a branch of a tree to stop himself being carried into the River Colne.

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Stranded car at Caldecote in Cambridgeshire
Stranded car at Caldecote in Cambridgeshire

In Context
Although heavy rains did occur they were not as bad as had been predicted. Flood warnings remained in place until the end of the week and a massive clean-up operation began.

The Environment Agency (EA) was highly criticised after it was seen to have failed in its promise to act on previous floods.

In October 2000, floods had caused extensive damage across southern England. Rail and road networks were thrown into chaos, power cuts plunged thousands of homes into darkness and many schools were closed as the south was lashed by torrential rain and 90mph winds.

The EA responded by highlighting the fact it was spending over 160m a year on flood defences.

They also advised people to help themselves during floods by moving valuable items and bank details upstairs.

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