Cameron visits flooding-hit areas

Firefighters make their way along a flooded street in Old Malton, North Yorkshire

Water flows over the High Force waterfall in Middleton-in Teesdale as rivers across the country burst their banks

Flood waters come close to covering houses in St Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded

A flooded playground outside Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire

First published in National News © by

Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting flood-hit areas as many parts of the country struggle to deal with rising water levels in the wake of heavy rainfall.

With 227 flood alerts and 183 flood warnings in place across England and Wales, the Environment Agency has urged many communities - in the north east of England, North Wales and Northamptonshire in particular - to remain vigilant.

On the roads, there was disruption for thousands of drivers, while train services were subject to hold-ups in the West Country. The North East also experienced rail problems, with buses having to replace trains on some routes. Meanwhile, councils have placed thousands of tonnes of sandbags, water pumps and emergency accommodation at the ready.

Some local authorities have even been loaning washing machines, cookers and fridges to those whose homes have been devastated by the weather, while several highways teams have also suspended roadworks to concentrate on sweeping away debris and rescuing stranded motorists.

Rising groundwater levels are also threatening to leave homes in Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset, under water.

Forecasters said the heavy rain would soon abate but with some areas already saturated, any wet weather could still cause problems. Meanwhile, freezing temperatures are expected to take hold of the UK over the next few days, with snow forecast to hit many coastal areas. The Pennines have already seen some sleet, while further wintry showers have been predicted across high ground in Scotland.

Gemma Plumb, a spokeswoman for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Although the rain was lighter last night than previous days, the rain fell on already saturated surfaces, adding to the risk of flooding. It will become increasingly drier in most places as we go through today, with just East Anglia and south east England holding on to the rain. By the end of the day most of the rain would have lifted but temperatures will feel noticeably colder this week, dropping to freezing overnight."

But the drier weather is unlikely to mark the end of the heavy rain, which looks set to return at the beginning of next week.

The continued flooding risk follows claims that hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills would be covered. The Association of British Insurers had claimed that talks about a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at "crisis point".

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said talks were ongoing - and that ministers were committed to securing a good deal for both householders and the taxpayer. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Paterson said it was too soon to quantify the full scale of the damage while the rain continued.

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