LONDON/BUDAPEST: (BosNewsLife) Britain is struggling with life-threatening flooding as Storm Dennis continues to pound the island, killing at least two people. It follows another storm that claimed the lives of people living in other European countries.
Storm Dennis is roaring across Britain. High winds and heavy rains push water over dams and dikes. Authorities have already issued 350 flood warnings, including a “red warning” alert for life-threatening flooding in south Wales.
Britain’s meteorological service only issues its highest warning when it believes the weather will be so bad there’s a “danger to life.”
It’s the first time the service has issued such a warning since December 2015. Flood warnings were in place Sunday across Britain, from the north of Scotland through to Cornwall in southwest England.
The Brittish army was called in to help construct or repair flood barriers against the rising water in several areas.
Among those assisting residents is Major Will Wright of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. “I have a group of guys down there, filling sandbags and making flood defenses,” he said as army soldiers rushed to shore up barriers.
But for some, that help came too late. The fourth named Storm of Europe’s winter season has already been blamed for the deaths of two men.
They were pulled Saturday from the water in separate searches off England’s southeastern coast.
The coastal Welsh village of Aberdaron, meanwhile, was blasted by hurricane-force winds up to 91 miles per hour (some 146 kilometers per hour).
Storm Dennis couldn’t have come at a worse time for Britain. Much of the island is still saturated from last week’s Storm Ciara. That left eight people dead across Europe.
But Andrew Pearce of Britain’s environment agency says authorities are racing against the clock to avoid more deaths. “We are now putting our plans into operation,” he said. “And we have got things right across the country. We employ temporary defenses, mobile pumps, and manage the flood risks to as many properties, homes, and people as we can.”
Several residents have taken matters into their own hands. In North Yorkshire, villagers struggled to put up an inflatable dam to protect seven cottages from rising waters. “We are doing our best,” explained Richard Oldfield, the Kirkby Wharfe community spokesman. “What we are trying to do is to keep the Kirby reservoir from entering the properties over here,” he explained.
Despite all these preparations, more interruptions were expected here and elsewhere in Britain. Hundreds of flights have been canceled as a result of the high winds. Budget airliner Easyjet, for example, halted around 230 flights in and out of Britain as wind speeds were due to hit up to 113 kilometers per hour.
Train services were also significantly disrupted. The travel chaos has affected tens of thousands of passengers on what would typically be a busy travel day for British families. Most schools are closed next week for the mid-winter break.