Rural communities on flood alert

EMERGENCY procedures have been put in place to help local communities facing floods.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual evoked emergency procedures after flood warnings were issued across southern England.

Early indications are that the focus is on Somerset, Dorset and Devon – although flood warnings and heavy rain have been reported across the country.

NFU Mutual's local agency offices in south-west England are on stand by and will be supported the insurer's Bristol regional office, should the situation worsen significantly.

Teams of experts would be on hand to help people to dry out their homes and find alternative accommodation if needed, said chief claims manager Matthew Scott.

"When devastating events like floods strike our first priority is to get immediate aid to help people who have been forced to leave their homes and businesses.

Local staff would be on hand to visit policyholders who suffered severe damage, give advice on the spot, make arrangements for inspections and authorise urgent interim payments.

The arrangements came as the Environment Agency warned that further rain meant there was still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales.

River flows were high after heavy rainfall, with agency officials keeping a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences to reduce the risk of flooding.

Figures from the Met Office show that last month was the wettest April in the UK since records began in 1910.

Some 121.8mm of rain had fallen to 29 April – significantly more than the 69.6mm normally expected for the month and beating the previous record of 120.3mm set in 2000.

Many Met Office observation sites across the UK have broken their individual rainfall records, with six stations so far having seen more than three times their usual monthly average.

Liscombe in Somerset has seen the most rainfall, with 273.8 mm of rain - more than three times the 86.4mm average.

At the other extreme, Prestwick in Ayrshire has seen just 39.2 mm of rain and Skye has had just over half of its monthly rainfall - with 52 mm of its 99.5 mm average.

April was in stark contrast to March, which was the fifth driest on record for the UK with 36.4 mm of rain (comparing to the average of 95.9 mm).


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