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26 Nov, 2012 13:01

Floods sweep UK, killing 4 and damaging hundreds of homes (VIDEO)

Four people were killed and 901 homes were damaged by raging floodwaters across Britain. The country’s south has been spared the worst of the heavy rains and high winds, as the midlands, west and north brace for the brunt of the storm.

Over 500 flood alerts were issued during the last few days for England, Wales and Scotland.Four people died over the weekend, and one person was declared missing. A 21-year-old woman, reportedly homeless, was killed in Exeter on Saturday when a tree fell on her tent. Two other men were injured in the incident. In Cambridgeshire, a 70-year-old man was pulled underwater when his car plunged into a swollen river that evening. A bystander dragged him to the shore, but the man was later pronounced dead by paramedics. On Saturday, 50-year-old Kevin Wilkinson died after stumbling into the river Colne amid thick fog in Hertfordshire. On Thursday, an elderly man was killed when his truck was pulled under a bridge in Somerset.Police are also searching the river Thames for 91-year-old Franciscus van de Gender, who went missing in Bershire. Rescuers in Somerset managed to save a 12-month-old baby from a car.

Rainfall tapered off in the southwestern UK on Sunday, but the Environment Agency warned that hundreds of areas were still at risk, with river levels high and more rain expected to hit the area. “There is more rain around today. The hotspots are in North Wales and north-east England but obviously because there has been so much rain, that could cause problems in other areas,” Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said, as quoted by the Independent.Amber alerts have been issued for the north-east of England and North Wales.Over the weekend, hundreds of homes across the country’s southwest were damaged by surging waters, bringing the total number of flooded houses since storms began on Wednesday to 901, the Environment Agency reported. It has issued flood warning messages to 70,684 households over the past few days.The agency said flood defenses have protected some 25,000 homes since the disaster began, and rescue teams across the UK are working to keep stave off the floods.British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter that he was concerned by these“shocking scenes,” and promised that the government would “ensure everything is being done to help.”The mayor of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, one of the worst-hit areas, told the Telegraph, “It's the worst flooding in 70 years, I was a boy in Malmesbury and I've never seen water like it. The houses won't dry out for weeks and months. There were cars with water up to their bonnets.”

Insurance claims at 'crisis point'

The government is currently in talks with insurance companies, which say claim negotiations over future cover have reached "crisis point." Insurers previously asked the Government to provide a temporary overdraft facility to pay claims for 200,000 high-risk households in the event of serious flooding.But director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Nick Starling, said ministers have rejected insurers’ proposals.“We have had two years to sort this out…We seem to have reached an impasse. The government has made it clear it’s rejected our solution,” he told the Independent.Meanwhile, Floods Minister Richard Benyon says the government remains “really determined” to reach a deal and that the issue is an “absolute priority.”