Chaos as Britain battered by storms

London (CNN) — Villages cut off by floodwater, rail links severed and huge waves pounding coastlines.

Powerful gales and torrential downpours battered southern Britain over the weekend in a fresh surge of extreme weather that has caused chaos across the country.

And there is no letup yet.

Britons face more misery, as forecasters are warning there will be little respite from hurricane-force winds and lashing rain that have seen hundreds of people forced from their homes.

Britain has been hit by bad weather since early December, and swaths of southwestern England have been flooded in continuously stormy weather.

“We have another Atlantic storm bringing gales and heavy downpours to many parts of the UK this weekend,” Paul Gundersen, Met Office chief meteorologist, said in a written statement.

“Monday is expected to bring a brief respite from the stormy conditions before more strong winds and rain set in from the west on Tuesday. This will bring the continuing risk of flooding and damaging winds bringing down trees to cause disruption to travel and power networks.”

Wettest January in 248 years

England suffered the wettest January since 1766, and there are hundreds of flood alerts in force for low-lying areas in southern and central England and Wales.

Gusts of up to 80 miles per hour, heavy rain and massive waves make up the latest extreme weather coming from the Atlantic Ocean and driven, meteorologists say, by a long and powerful polar vortex.

Hundreds of people have already been forced out of their homes. And with the ground heavily saturated, any more rain will increase the flood risk across the country.

In Chertsey, Surrey, where the River Thames burst its banks, a 7-year-old boy died and 17 people were hospitalized after falling ill, police said Saturday.

Police said the cause of illness was unknown but “cannot rule out that there may be a link to flooding in the local area.”

Efforts were under way to build flood defenses in the area, where nearby homes were damaged and riverside benches and trees were submerged in the water.

Soldiers and sandbags

Prime Minister David Cameron is promising government help for regions that have literally been under water for weeks now.

He visited flood-hit Somerset on Friday and will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, known as Cobra, on Sunday to discuss the crisis.

“All Govt depts doing all they can to help those affected,” Cameron tweeted last week following a similar meeting.

Storm waves have been beating rocks and spraying mist onto coastlines in seaside towns, where many shops have been closed.

Military personnel have been sent out to some areas to deploy sandbags and improve flood defenses.

On top of flooding, the weather has caused some areas to be cut off from power as well as rail links.

In one area, Dawlish, high tides and stormy seas destroyed a sea wall, causing a significant stretch of railway to collapse into the sea. Nearby homes and a road were also damaged.



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