Worse to come in British flooding as Cameron visits flood-hit city of York | News | DW | 28.12.2015
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Worse to come in British flooding as Cameron visits flood-hit city of York

British Prime Minister David Cameron has visited the flood-hit city of York, amid staunch criticism against his response to the floods. Many parts of northern England continue to battle against the waters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting with Britain's COBRA emergency response committee to discuss the government's response to "unprecedented flooding" in northern England before heading to some of the worst-affected areas.

"I've just chaired a COBRA meeting on the unprecedented flooding. Huge thanks to the emergency services and military for doing so much," Cameron wrote on Twitter, pledging further troops to the worst-hit regions.

He then took off to visit some of the worst-hit areas, meeting some of the soldiers assisting in the aftermath of the floods in York. Around 500 properties were flooded in York alone, as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets had cars entirely covered in water.

Cameron comes under scrutiny

The prime minister has come under increased pressure over the quality of Britain's flood defenses. Some have demanded the government take more action to prevent further floods in the future, blaming climate change for the events. David Rooke, deputy chief executive of the government's Environment Agency, told BBC radio that a "complete rethink" in flood protection was needed.

"I think (the review) will lead to the conclusion that we will need to reassess all the defenses right across the country to say what standard of protection have we now got based on current science and what standard of protection will be needed in the future in the face of this changing climate," he said.

The daily "Guardian" newspaper said in an editorial that "climate change and inadequate preparation […] ensure that the floods will become a painfully regular future of British life."

"[E]ven the army cannot substitute for coherent policy on flood prevention," the Guardian said.

Prime Minister Cameron told Sky News that he would assess the situation and "see whether more needs to be done."

"After any one of these events, it's right to sit down, look at what you've spent, what you've built, what you're planning to spend, what you're planning to build and work out is it in the right places, are we doing it in the right way, do we need to do more?" he said.

'Worst flooding in 70 years'

Rivers in the cities of York, Leeds, and Manchester have burst their banks, as further heavy rain was forecast for later this week. West Yorkshire Police have called the event the "worst flooding in 70 years."

Floods in England

Certain streets in York and elsewhere in the north were completely submerged in water

Elsewhere in the north-east and the north-west of England, the Environment Agency issued 27 severe flood warnings, as vast swathes of northern England are still submerged in water. These floods could potentially be life-threatening. However, there have been no casualties or missing person reports. Close to 200 minor flood warnings were also in place in other parts of the north of the country as well as in the Midlands and parts of Wales. Thousands of homes were reportedly without power.

After Christmas, the government deployed another 200 soldiers to assist communities in the worst-hit areas, bringing the total number of troops in the affected areas to 500. The British news agency Press Association reported that another 1,000 troops were on standby if the situation were to worsen.

The country has recently been hit by a string of serious floods including in Cumbria earlier this month and in late 2013 as well as in early 2014 in southwest and southeast England.

Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said that initial analysis showed that damages caused by the floods could run as high as 1.3 billion pounds ($1.9 billion, 1.8 billion euros).

ss/se (AP, AFP, dpa)

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