‘Money No Object’: Cameron Pledges Flood Aid

floods

The Prime Minister has pledged “any aid necessary” to combat floods that have hit the south of England as he said the military will be given a bigger role in the relief effort.

Speaking at a news conference at Downing Street, David Cameron warned “things may well get worse, before they get better”.

There are fears up to 4,000 more properties could be inundated with water with more severe weather – including up to 70mm of rain and 80mph wind gusts – forecast for the rest of the week.

Around 1,000 homes have been reported as flooded in the last week, including 800 along the Thames.

Mr Cameron said: “Nothing is more important than dealing with these floods. Money is no object in this relief effort.

floods

Some 1,600 service personnel will be deployed to flooding areas

“Whatever money is needed for it, it will be spent. We will take whatever steps are necessary.

“There is absolutely no sign of this threat abating, and with further rain and strong winds forecast throughout the week, things may get worse before they get better.”

He also paid tribute to emergency services, Environment Agency staff, local authority workers and volunteers and said a total of 1,600 servicemen and women will be deployed to flooded areas by the end of Tuesday as the military is given a bigger role in the relief effort.

Watch special coverage of the flood crisis every night on Sky News

Mr Cameron was due to travel to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but said he had apologised to both after cancelling the trip.

Ahead of a COBRA meeting later, he announced a new Cabinet committee will be set up to oversee the flooding recovery and a tax deferral scheme would help businesses hit by flooding.

Up to £10m in new funding will be found to support farmers and grants for homeowners and businesses will be made available to improve flood defences.

He said: “It’s ghastly when your house is flooded with water, you’ve got to take all the plaster out, the furniture is wrecked, it takes a long time to recover. It is a really painful and depressing process.

The flooded green in Datchet in Berkshire, South East England

The green in Datchet, Berkshire, is under water

“What we need in place is a full system. We need to make sure the insurance loss adjusters get into those houses quickly, carry out the assessment, and pay up the money fast.”

Soldiers and firefighters have been rescuing people from flooded homes on the banks of the River Thames.

Troops have been deployed in Chertsey, Surrey, Staines-upon-Thames, Middlesex, and in Wraysbury, Berkshire, with emergency services going from street to street to help homeowners.

It comes after Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was confronted by a flood warden in Wraysbury live on Sky News.

Su Burrows, who previously pleaded directly to the Prime Minister for help, told him: “There are 100 people here helping but not one of them is from the Environment Agency. They’re sat in an office and they need to be here.”

Thames Flooding Map

Communities in the Thames Valley have been warned of more flooding

During an emotional exchange, she added: “We need the army here. We said that yesterday but no one is taking us seriously.

“What will it take for you to understand? We are seriously in need of help.”

Mr Hammond insisted he understood people’s frustrations and said the military was ready to tackle any tasks assigned.

However, he said authorities had told him they currently have no need for additional manpower, and explained soldiers would only be deployed in response to specific needs.

Thames Valley Police has declared a “major incident” in parts of Berkshire, where hundreds of properties have already been flooded.

Flooding in south UK

Royal Navy personnel form a human chain in Northmoor

Some 14 severe flood warnings – meaning there is an imminent danger to life – are in place between Datchet and Shepperton Green. Two others are still in force for Somerset.

The EA warned communities along the Thames and on the Somerset Levels to expect more flooding as heavy rain is expected on Wednesday.

It said around 100 properties remained flooded on the levels, where extra pumps are being brought in from the Netherlands to reduce levels on the River Parrett and Tone.

Groundwater flooding is also expected in the next few days in Hampshire, Kent and parts of London.

And there are fears the River Severn and River Wye will also burst their banks.

Boreholes

Groundwater levels are extremely high in the south of England

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for further spells of heavy rain for the rest of the week.

Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said: “There’s further rain to come today and tomorrow, and that’s going to exacerbate the flooding problems.

“It really is looking extremely wet and windy over the next few days.”

Commuters also face further delays on rail networks, with services into and out of Paddington among those worst affected.

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