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Floods claim fourth life and leave worst insurance bills for five years

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:53
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November 28, 2012UNITED KINGDOMFlooding in Britain has claimed a fourth life and brought misery to hundreds more homes, as torrential rain moves away into the North Sea leaving the worst insurance bills for five years in its wake. Firefighters in the devastated centre of St Asaph, the small but historic north Wales community which was given city status by the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee, recovered the body of an elderly woman from her flooded house, one of 500 local properties damaged or evacuated. The tragedy follows drownings in the West Country earlier in three days of downpours and floods which have seen the number of damaged houses top the 1100 mark. Emergency teams remain on duty at Malton and Norton in North Yorkshire, where six pumps are keeping the river Derwent at bay, and in York where the river Ouse is expected to peak on the morning of Wednesday 28 November. The historic city is used to flooding in streets beside the river, which bisects the walled core, but a complex defence system involving the smaller river Foss holds all but exceptionally high water at bay. Extra sandbags were deployed by the York Flood Group, an emergency command structure convened when the Ouse rises by over four metres for more than a day. The Environment Agency repeated warnings elsewhere that the break-up of solid downpours into fragmented showers did not mean that the threat of flooding was over. On Tuesday there were 181 flood warnings and 216 flood alerts covering the whole of England, with the highest total (111) in the Midlands and the smallest (6) in the usually damp north west which this time lay just to the north of the path of the wet fronts. Rising levels in the river Severn and the Thames from Oxford downstream have emergency teams on standby. John Curtin, Environment Agency head of incident management said: “Further flooding is expected in the next few days and communities across the country, particularly in north east England, north Wales and Northamptonshire, are urged to remain especially vigilant.” The heaviest insurance bill since 2007 has been estimated by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which suggests that damage from flooding so far this year is likely to reach £1bn, compared with losses of £3bn in 2007 when successive severe floods across England and Wales forced thousands of people from their homes. Mohammad Khan, insurance partner at PwC, said the period from April to June was the wettest since records began and insurance losses from the flooding were then estimated at £500m. Using summer flood damage as a proxy to the recent flooding across the UK, he estimates the total cost this year to now add up to around £1bn. Since the 2007 floods, the Environment Agency has become more active and more people have signed up to its text message alerts, meaning they are better prepared when the worst weather hits. –Telegraph


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