Henley-On-Thames, England (AFP) July 26, 2007
More rains were forecast Thursday for flood-hit areas where meteorologists said the three months from May to July were the wettest in England and Wales since records began in 1766. The heavy rains came in two waves, one on June 24 and 25, that flooded much of northern and central England, killing four people, and another on July 20 that submerged swathes of south and west England.
A father and son died Wednesday night after apparently becoming overwhelmed by fumes as they used a petrol-powered pump to remove water from a rugby club in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, one of the worst-hit areas.
The older man was aged 64, while his son was in his 20s.
The current flooding is the worst in 60 years, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without tap water, cutting electricity to tens of thousands of homes, and spreading chaos on both roads and railways.
The figures released by the weather forecasting agency, the Met Office, showed that 387.6 millimetres (15.3 inches) of rain has fallen across England and Wales, the most since records were first kept in 1766.
Even with the month not yet over, the total rainfall amount is already more than twice the May-to-June average, which is 186.3 millimetres.
And although officials said levels along most of the Severn and Thames Rivers had peaked, meteorologists forecast more rain and health officials worried about the threat posed by sewage-tainted floodwaters.
The worst of the day's rain is due to fall in parts of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, which is well south of the flood zones.
But flood-hit communities in Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire were also threatened with heavy rains, with some parts of the southern Cotswolds facing up to 20 millimetres, Met Office forecaster Nigel Bolton said.
Around 140,000 homes remained without tap water in the flood-ravaged western county of Gloucestershire as a utility firm tried to repair a treatment plant crippled by the overflowing Severn at the weekend.
People in the area were receiving water rations from more than 1,000 mobile water tanks, but many complain they are not being filled quickly enough.
Gloucestershire police warned there had been incidents of selfishness where people were draining the tanks or reselling water at inflated prices.
The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is due to visit flooded areas of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Friday. He has a country retreat at Highgrove in Gloucestershire but it has not been affected.
Professor Ian Cluckie, chairman of the government-backed Flood Risk Management Research Consortium, warned that the water "will become contaminated with raw sewage which means that there will still be E coli in there." Cluckie, interviewed by the Daily Mail, added that it could lead to diseases like cholera or dysentery.
Floodwaters along most of the Severn receded in central and western England.
Water levels have also reached their highest point for most locations along the Thames, and are either steady or starting to fall slowly, officials said.
Three severe flood warnings remained on the River Thames and River Ock in Oxfordshire.
Officials said people who live downriver in Reading, Purley and Henley should see levels start do drop throughout Thursday after having watched them rise towards their homes.
The capital London, which lies towards the end of the Thames, is not under threat.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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More Flooding As England Battles Power Cuts And Water Shortages
Oxford, England (AFP) Jul 26, 2007
Further water surges were expected in southern England Wednesday as Britain's worst floods in 60 years saw evacuations, the threat of power cuts and a lack of fresh water for thousands. Tributaries feeding the River Thames engulfed several areas in the university city of Oxford overnight. Some 250 homes were evacuated and residents given emergency shelter at a nearby football stadium.
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