Flood water surrounds abandoned cars left in a flooded street in Tenbury Wells, after the River Teme burst its banks in western England, on February 16, 2020, after Storm Dennis caused flooding across large swathes of Britain. (AFP photo)
Storm Dennis has had a chaotic effect on Britain, resulting in hundreds of air and rail travel cancellations, and the deaths of at least two people on Saturday.
Streets have been evacuated by lifeboat in some of the worst-hit areas and people moved to emergency rescue centers after their properties and businesses were devastated by water from overflowing rivers.
With more than 300 flood warning still in place across the UK, including seven severe warnings in England, there is little sign of the situation abating.
In York, thousands of sandbags have been put into place to protect vulnerable properties as the river Ouse continues to rise. However, a minister has said that the government would not be able to protect all homes from flooding.
George Eustice, the recently appointed Environment Secretary, during a visit to York to assess the situation, denied the government had been caught off guard by the floods; only a week after the UK had faced Ciara, another major storm.
Speaking to Sky News, Eustace said, "Weíve done a huge amount. We canít do anything about these extreme weather events but the steps weíve taken have meant the impact of those weather events have affected fewer properties."
Eustice said the "nature of climate change" was responsible for the extent of the damage, adding, "These weather events are becoming more extreme, but weíve done everything that we can do with a significant sum of money, and thereís more to come."
Asked why Johnson had not visited the flood-stricken areas, Eustice said: "When I was appointed by the prime minister, one of the first things he mentioned was the floods. We discussed Storm Dennis, that it was coming through. I am leading on this. Iím in the cabinet, I was up there yesterday in Yorkshire. Iíve been in regular contact with officials on this."
Pressed on why Johnson had not visited personally, he said: "Because I went up there yesterday on his behalf. He has been to these areas before, Iím sure he will again." Asked when this might happen, Eustice said: "I donít manage the prime ministerís diary."
Flood warnings and alerts were issued in unprecedented numbers for England on Sunday, according to John Curtin, the Environment Agencyís head of floods and coastal management - reaching a combined total of 624 by Sunday night.
This had risen to 632 by 04:00 GMT on Monday morning.
The weekend saw many parts of the UK swept by winds of more than 90mph and inundated with more than a monthís rainfall in 48 hours in some areas, with flights and train services being cancelled and roads closed.
The situation in south Wales, where the Met Office issued a red warning due to heavy rainfall and flooding risk, was described as "life-threatening".
South Wales Police said emergency services were working with local organisations to ensure the safety of people in communities cut off by flooding, and to minimize damage and disruption and that emergency centers have been set up for those who have been displaced.
Severe flood warnings are in place for the rivers Lymn and Steeping in Lincolnshire, as well as the River Teme in parts of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
In Worcestershire, a man was rescued from the River Teme close to Eastham Bridge and taken to hospital by ambulance, police said. But a search for a woman who went missing in floodwater in Worcestershire was called off until Monday.
In Herefordshire, the council said it was working with the emergency services, the Environment Agency and health partners to assist residents.
The council further advised people to avoid unnecessary travel, check on neighbors adding that "Rest centers" are being set up for those who need to be evacuated.
In Scotland, the Forth and Tay road bridges were closed to all traffic.
Winds battered most of Scotland on Sunday with a Met Office warning in place until 11:00 GMT on Monday.
It comes after Storm Ciara brought as much as 184mm of rain and gusts reaching 97mph last weekend.
The storm also caused hundreds of homes to be flooded and left more than 500,000 people without power.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky Newsís Sophy Ridge the government was stepping up its response to extreme weather conditions.
He said it had put £2.4bn into defenses over a six-year spending period up until next year, and would allocate £4bn for the next six-year period.
Heathrow check-in systems meltdown
Heathrow airport apologies for an IT glitch, which affected the display of flight departure and arrival details as well as the check-in systems, causing flight cancellation or long delays affecting thousands of passengers
The situation at the airport on Sunday was described on Twitter by one passenger as "utter chaos", while another shared pictures of whiteboards displaying handwritten flight numbers and destinations.
Heathrow stated on Sunday night that the issue had been resolved, aiming to resume normal service on Monday and operate its full schedule. However, it noted that some airlinesí operations may continue to be affected by Storm Dennis and Sundayís technical issues.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: "We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our passengers. Our teams will continue to monitor our systems and be on hand across our terminals to provide assistance to passengers as we work to resume our regular operations."
Several customers also reported issues with the Heathrow app, which appeared to be sending a stream of push notifications about the coronavirus. Heathrow has not confirmed if this was related to the IT issue affecting its check-in systems, but said in reply to one Twitter user: "We are aware of this issue and apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience."
British Airways reportedly cancelled 20 flights. The airline explained that the cancellations were the result of Heathrowís technical issues alongside the disruption caused by Storm Dennis.
"Weíve introduced a flexible booking policy and have brought in extra colleagues to help our customers, providing them with overnight accommodation if needed," a British Airways spokesperson added.
SOURCE: PRESS TV