Guardian News and Media/London
Parts of the UK already saturated by heavy rainfall and flooding have been warned by forecasters to prepare for more wet weather.
The environment agency said there were 106 flood warnings in place for England yesterday, including six severe warnings, indicating a danger to life, in communities near the Welsh border.
Persistent rain has caused the Met Office to raise yellow weather warnings across parts of southern Scotland and Strathclyde, north-west England and Wales as recovery efforts continue following Storm Dennis.
Jeremy Corbyn – who visited south Wales yesterday to meet residents and volunteers in flood-hit communities – criticised Boris Johnson for not visiting those affected by flooding, adding that he had shown his “true colours” by not convening the government’s emergency committee Cobra.
“Failing to convene Cobra to support flood-hit communities sends a very clear message: if the prime minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election he simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding, especially communities that have repeatedly been flooded in recent years,” the Labour leader said.
Corbyn said areas most vulnerable to flooding had been “badly let down time and time again”, and criticised the government’s response to the climate crisis.
“As the climate crisis deepens, extreme weather conditions will become more frequent and severe,” he said. “The government’s response has been wholly inadequate and fails to grasp the scale of this crisis.”
Johnson was criticised on Tuesday by the Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, who said the Welsh government should have its own Cobra-style national emergency response system.
The Business Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, defended Johnson for not visiting areas of the UK affected by flooding. “He is focused to make sure that I, as the business minister, get the money out of the door to those businesses. That’s what he has tasked me to do. He’s made sure that the ministers in the department for local government activate the Bellwin scheme, that’s what Robert Jenrick (the housing secretary) has done,” Zahawi told Sky News.
“He is now prime minister and is leading the team as the prime minister but quite rightly, rather than having a sort of jamboree of media and your whole entourage going, he wants to help people by getting the funding to them.”
Rain fell heavily across northern and western parts of Britain overnight, said Mark Wilson, a Met Office forecaster.
The village of Capel Curig in north Wales received 54mm (2.12in) of rain in 24 hours, compared with an average of 97mm for the whole of February. The village of Shap in Cumbria, which recorded 120mm across February 2019, received 52mm before sunrise yesterday.
More weather warnings are likely today with heavy rain expected across western Scotland, Yorkshire and parts of Cumbria. Gusty winds are also expected to strengthen at the end of the working week.
Wilson urged people to be mindful of warnings as they go about their day. “There could be some pretty tricky conditions on the roads, make sure you give yourself a bit more time with travel because there’s some fairly heavy rain around,” he said.
The Environment Agency said England had already received 141% of its average February rainfall so far this month, adding that river levels in the Colne, Ribble, Calder, Aire, Trent, Severn, Wye, Lugg, and Derwent all set new records in recent days.
Fundraising efforts have continued for those affected by the floods, with multiple communities in Wales starting collections. On Wednesday, the actor Michael Sheen launched a campaign to raise money for affected communities in Wales, which raised half of its £10,000 goal within the first five hours.
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