The whole of England and Wales was Tuesday placed under flood alert as rain continues to plague the South and tidal surges batter the coast.
Huge waves prompted the Environment Agency to sound its flood siren in Dorset last night - warning of extreme danger to people and property.
The alarm was raised after the sea breached Chiswell Beach in Portland around 10pm and spray crashed over flood defences, the coastguard said.
Police told residents, who had been on high alert, to move to an upstairs room facing away from the sea, as ‘horrendous’ sea conditions were reported.
Three severe flood warnings - the highest level - have been issued by the EA covering Chiswell, nearby Preston Beach and the Lower Stour in Dorset.
Some 360 flood warnings or alerts were in place for England, Wales and Scotland - with warnings in all of England and Wales, and three Scottish regions.
The Met Office said that heavy showers, some of them combined with hail and thunder, will continue to affect parts of the South today and tomorrow.
The rain is falling on already-saturated ground, putting added pressure on swollen rivers - while coastal areas also battle high tides and strong winds.
Helicopter footage shows villages cut off by floods in Somerset
Many areas have faced disruption from road closures and cancelled or delayed train services as people returned to work after the Christmas holidays.
Seven people have died and more than 1,700 homes and businesses have been flooded in England since the beginning of the Christmas period.
Some 300 properties have flooded since the New Year. And around 140 properties have been flooded in Wales.
High winds over Christmas also left 250,000 homes without power, with some families waiting days for the electricity to be restored.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the Government was working closely with councils and insurers to ensure people could quickly get help. Some areas were now focused on recovery after storms and flooding over Christmas and New Year, while others remained at significant risk, he added.
Mr Paterson admitted to the Commons that a few energy network companies were too slow at restoring power to thousands of homes affected by the storms and floods over Christmas.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey will be meeting the regulator Ofgem and the Distribution Network Operators to see how improvements can be made.
Mr Paterson also said the response from some agencies in helping people whose homes had been affected by the severe weather had been ‘patchy’ and was ‘well worth investigating’, though he praised the response of most of those involved in dealing with the storms.
He told MPs: ‘Flood management is a real priority for this Government. It has a vital role to play in protecting people and property from the damage caused by flooding and in delivering economic growth.’
But environmentalists challenged the Government's claim that it was spending more than ever on flood defences.
Friends of the Earth said analysis of Defra figures showed that some £2.32 billion was being spent over the current spending review period, slightly lower than the £2.36 billion spent in the period 2007-2011.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: ‘Worse still, the coalition's chronic under-investment in flood defences is completely failing to keep pace with climate change, which is increasing flood risk - as the Government's climate envoy Sir David King recently pointed out.
‘Protecting British households from the destructive impacts of climate change is essential - the Prime Minister must intervene to ensure flood defence spending rises to meet the challenge.’
Mr Paterson's statement on the floods over the holiday period came as the misery continued for some communities.
Flooding in the Somerset Levels has left villages cut off, roads and buildings have been damaged, and waves of up to 27ft have been recorded at Land's End, the most southern tip of the UK.
In Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, seafront properties along the promenade were again evacuated to a rest centre at a local school.
Meanwhile, searches are continuing in south Devon for missing 18-year-old university student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather - with more than 100 people volunteering to look for him.
Devon and Cornwall Police said a 20-mile stretch of coastline - 10 miles either side of the 18-year-old's home at Newton Ferrers - has been extensively searched as well as inland areas with the help of a range of groups and emergency services.
Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away as dozens put their lives at risk by going to coastal areas to watch as the storm brought waves of up to 40ft high crashing on to land.
Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to the man who died after being washed out to sea in Cornwall on New Year's Day.
Harry Swordy, 27, from Guildford, Surrey, had gone for a paddle with friends at Loe Bar beach after celebrating the new year but was ‘taken out of knee-deep water by a huge wave’.
Friends Tom and Lou Luddington wrote a blog post in tribute to Mr Swordy. They said: ‘He was with his sister and friends, and celebrating the beginning of a new year at the beach.
‘Some of the others were also taken by the wave, but thankfully managed to get ashore. Harry was such an amazing character, so full of life, warmth and plans for the future. He will be so missed.
‘Harry, amongst other talents, was a professional story-teller. His stories were full of beauty, wonder and they were clever and moving.’
Friends have also begun a #StormHarry appeal on Twitter for the UK's ongoing bad weather to be named after him.
‘We are campaigning that the storm, named by the US media as Hercules, be re-named Storm Harry in his memory,’ Mr and Mrs Luddington said.
‘It feels right that a legend begin about wonderful Harry that he danced up the biggest storm ever, barefoot in the sea.’
Concern was growing for an elderly dementia sufferer who was known to love the seafront after she went missing from her coastal home in the middle of last night.
Shirley Coalbran, of Hastings, East Sussex, was last seen when she went to bed around 11pm but the 76-year-old then got up again and left her home.
Sergeant Jane Batcheler said: ‘Shirley has mild Alzheimer's and is known to like looking at the sea and walks along the seafront. We have had some very high winds overnight so we are concerned for her welfare.’
The pensioner was believed to have been wearing a black parka-style coat with fur around the hood, and black boots. Anyone who saw her was asked to contact Sussex Police.
People have been warned to keep away from cliffs in Hastings, East Sussex, after excessive rainfall, strong winds and high tides lead to a massive rock fall.
The cliff face at Rock a Nore, which forms part of the Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve, is susceptible to landslides but the fall on January 3 means the area is dangerous in the current weather conditions, Hastings Borough Council said.
Councillor Emily Westley said: ‘We already advise the public not to enter the area with warning and information signs and a fixed barrier to restrict access, but must reiterate the current dangers.
‘Visual inspections are carried out daily of cliffs as part of the beach inspector's checks and this includes ensuring all signage and barriers are in place.
‘In addition, we also visually inspect and photograph this area of cliff as part of our quarterly inspection of coast defence assets.’
A huge ancient stack of rock was destroyed after constant pounding by ferocious waves on the southern tip of Portland in Dorset.
The rock, known as Pom Pom Rock, was said to have weighed hundreds of tonnes and dates back 150 million years to the Jurassic age.
Portland has been badly hit by the weather, with the Environment Agency sounding its flood siren last night in the area to warn of extreme danger.
More than 220,000 properties were protected over the Christmas period and another 800,000 were protected during the coastal flooding in early December, Mr Paterson told the Commons.
Residents of Portland, Dorset, were shocked after flood sirens warning of a breach in sea defences sounded for the first time ever.
The island, connected to Weymouth by a mile-long causeway, was among the worst hit areas of the country overnight. Huge sections of the famous Chesil Beach were washed away as 15ft tall waves pounded the coastline.
The flood sirens were sounded at the village of Chiswell and the causeway shut to traffic at 10.15pm last night when the sea breached the beach's iconic shingle bank at high tide.
The claxon, initiated by the Environment Agency, is a warning of severe flooding with ‘extreme risk to people and property’.
A spokesman for the agency said the warning system had been in place since the 1980s but this was the first time ever it had been used.
Residents of Chiswell were advised to move to an upstairs room facing away from the sea and stay there until told it was safe to come down.
They were warned to take flood kits with them and expect to be stranded for several hours. And around 30 drinkers were evacuated from the Cove House Inn on Chesil Beach.
Landlady Amanda Broughton-South said: ‘It was pretty hair-raising. As the evening went on the weather just got worse and worse. The wind was howling and the waves were about 15ft and began breaching the sea defences.
‘There used to be a big section of pebble beach between the pub and the sea but it's basically been washed away and now the water is right up to our wall.'
Local resident Anne Souster was today mopping up after flood water 2in deep came into her 400-year-old cottage.
She said: ‘We were given the option of evacuating but this cottage has been here since the 1600s so we decided to stay. The only damage it has done is to the carpet.
‘The major worry was the idiots who were going up to the sea wall to look at it. There were a lot of them and the police had to get involved.'
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning - the lowest of its three levels - for ‘heavy showers, some of them combined with hail and thunder’ until tomorrow morning across the South East, South West and East of England.
Forecasters are predicting rainfall of between 0.6in (15mm) and 1in (25mm) but are warning of as much as 1.6in (40mm) in some areas.
Dorset Police urged residents in Chiswell to be prepared for flooding and to listen out for the warning siren.
‘The siren will be sounded should the sea breach Chiswell beach - as it did last night,’ a force spokeswoman said.
Portland Beach Road from Weymouth to Portland remains open but will close should the conditions make it unsafe and Preston Beach Road in Weymouth remains closed.
‘This is a multi-agency operation and follows monitoring of sea levels, tides and waves over the last 24-hour period, the weather forecast indicating further severe weather together with predicted high tides.’
At Palmer's Brewery in nearby Bridport, the Old Brewery building was evacuated when scaffolding was struck by lightning for the second time in 12 months.
‘There was a huge bang and all our alarms went off,’ a brewery spokesman said.
‘We evacuated the building and everyone trooped outside into the pouring rain. Fortunately there was no damage and we were able to return swiftly to brewing today's batch of Copper Ale. All back to usual now and the sun has come out.’
Other parts of the UK continued to suffer from gale-force winds, heavy rain overnight and strong waves.
The Thames Barrier in London will close for the 11th successive tide today. According to the EA it has only closed operationally 135 times since being built in the 1980s.
In Cornwall, waves at Portreath washed away a 100-year-old stone hut on the breakwater and at Porthcothan Bay, between Newquay and Padstow, a huge rock has completely collapsed under the sheer force of huge waves.
In Wales, the coast was once again battered by strong winds and high tides but forecasters say the worst of the storms is over for now.
All buildings along Aberystwyth promenade were evacuated last night as it was hit by an ‘exceptional’ wave swell.
About 150 students in seafront flats were moved out to temporary accommodation at Aberystwyth University and will not return until safety checks are completed.
But strong winds and rain should ease as the weather improves this week.
Natural Resources Wales said one flood warning for the lower Dee Valley and eight flood alerts remain in place.
Across the rail network, there was continuing disruption to services due to the weather.
Rail services between Lincoln Central and Peterborough have been affected because of emergency engineering work taking place to prevent a landslip.
There were also delays on First Great Western services because of signalling problems between Truro and Falmouth Docks following a lighting strike at the docks.
Flooding between Radley and Oxford was causing delays to trains between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, which was disrupting CrossCountry and First Great Western services.
Several services across the Arriva Train Wales network were continuing to be disrupted due to the damage caused by the recent high winds and flooding.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 10:09 | Written by CBC NEWS Tuesday, 07 January 2014 09:27
Two machines worth tens of thousands of dollars were donated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The first was a continuous renal replacement therapy machine, to benefit patients with certain kidney dysfunctions.
This was donated by the Williams group of companies, which said it would keep donating equipment as long as it can afford it.
General Manager Neil Weekes says this particular gift was in memory of the late Roger Gittens, former C.O. Williams Construction Limited general manager.
The second machine was donated by the League of Friends Foundation, which has supported the QEH since 1965.
Their members gave the QEH an electro-cardiogram machine worth just over ten thousand dollars, commonly used to detect abnormal heart rhythms.
Minister of Health John Boyce said these donations help to keep the hospital afloat, and encouraged the public to assist the QEH in its philanthropic program.
Written by CBC NEWS Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:26
A man who woke up in a body bag at a funeral home after being pronounced legally dead in what the coroner described a 'miracle'.
Walter Williams from Lexington, Mississippi, was zipped up in a body bag while funeral home workers prepared to embalm him, but instead they soon found him kicking to get out, according to WAPT.
The coroner suspected that Williams' pacemaker had likely stopped for a brief period and then started up again.
The coroner said that he had checked Williams' pulse at 9pm that night, pronouncing him dead shortly after.
Williams' nephew Eddie Hester said: 'I stood there and watched them put him in a body bag and zip it up.
'That was at 10:30pm, and at 2:30am, my cousin called me and said "Not yet" and I said "what do you mean not yet?"
'He said, "Daddy still here".'
Paramedics took Williams to hospital where he stabilised, and was said to be 'happy to be alive' by family members.
Hester said: 'I don't know how long he's going to be here, but I know he's back right now and that's all that matters.'
Byron Porter, of Porter and Sons Funeral Home, said it was the first time he had seen anything like it.
He said: 'He was not dead. Long story short.'
Holmes County Sheriff Willie March said: 'I asked the coroner what happened, and the only thing he could say is that it's a miracle.'
Williams had been a long time farmer and had worked for the local school board. He was described by his family as a 'fighter'.
Written by CBC NEWS Friday, 28 February 2014 12:29
In Guyana, the Commission of Enquiry appointed to investigate the death of late historian and politician, Walter Rodney is seeking the assistance of the public regarding the decades-old crime.
The Commission's secretariat said that persons wishing to testify are invited to submit their statements containing the nature and substance of their proposed evidence.
A three-member commissioner was sworn in at the office of the president.
Rodney was killed when a bomb exploded in the car in which he was sitting 33 years ago.
Barbadian Queen's Counsel Richard Cheltenham has been appointed Chairman of the Commission by President Donald Ramotar.
He will serve alongside Jamaican Queen's Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, and Guyanese-Trinidadian senior counsel Seenauth Jairam.
Written by CBC NEWS Wednesday, 05 March 2014 13:15
The spill off economic benefits to businesses in the St. Lawrence Gap are expected to be significant when a locally produced theatre production kicks off Thursday.
This is according to businessman David Neilands, one of the producers and actors involved in the production called Alleluia Pork Chops.
The theatrical production, being held at the Reggae Lounge, is the brainchild of The Gap Theatre.
He says theatre also offers a golden opportunity to diversify Barbados' tourism product, at a time when efforts are on to boost the sector's appeal internationally.
Mark Lynch, one of the owners of the Reggae Lounge says it will be a much-welcomed addition.
Alleluia Pork Chops was scheduled to start at seven thirty at the Reggae Lounge.
Written by CBC NEWS Friday, 07 March 2014 14:25
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