SOMERSET FLOODS: Prime Minister says there are "lessons to learn" on surprise visit to Somerset (Fri, Feb 7) (From Bridgwater Mercury)
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SOMERSET FLOODS: Prime Minister says there are "lessons to learn" on surprise visit to Somerset (Fri, Feb 7)
Updated 7:23am Saturday 8th February 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- Prime Minister David Cameron in Somerset
- Flood defences in Moorland breached
- Rescue centre set up in Bridgwater
- Royal Marines helping police with evacuation
- Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith visited Levels on Friday
- Further heavy rain expected later today and on Saturday
Following earlier flooding lines between Bridgwater and Taunton have now re-opened, delays are expected for remainder of todays service.— @FGW 07 February 2014
Junction 24 off the M5 on Huntworth Lane towards Moorland has been closed, at the request of the police, in order to manage operations.
Over £100k has been donated to the Somerset Emergency Flood Relief Fund Appeal to help those affected by the flooding.
£50,000 of this temporary fund was donated by Somerset County Council.
The programme is being administered by Somerset Community Foundation, who plans to hand out of between £150 and £1,000 to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods.
Priority will be given to the hardest hit and most vulnerable households.
For more information, and if you want to donate or receive a grant, visit www.somersetcf.org.uk.
You can donate £10 via text by texting NOAH95 to 70070.
You can also send a cheque made payable to Somerset Community Foundation with Flood Relief written on the back to Yeoman House, Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN.
SPEAKING during a surprise visit to Bridgwater today, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed the Government will do “everything that can be done” to help flood-hit communities in Somerset.
He said: "I wanted to come and see it for myself. I've been chairing Cobra and we have been doing everything we can to help. If councils need to spend the money then we will reimburse it, but it's going to get tougher for some people."
When asked why it took so long for Cameron to make an appearance in Somerset to address the floods, he said: "I wanted to come at a time when I wouldn't be getting in the way of the emergency services.
"I feel we have acted quickly. We have been bringing together all the different organisations and different parts of Government to see what can be done.
"Everyone is working to fix this as fast as we can, but some of these things will take time to fix. The rivers are already at capacity, so there are constraints.
"We have brought in more pumps and more money but there are also lessons to be learnt and I'll make sure they are."
He said he had been hearing many suggestions from local people about how things could be improved, including dredging the rivers.
When water levels come down and it’s safe to dredge, the PM said the EA will be dredging to make sure the rivers carry a larger capacity of water, adding: "Should the policy to dredge have been implemented sooner? Yes."
He added a hardship fund had been set up and the Government was making sure insurance companies continue to offer home insurance to people that have been flooded out.
“Everything that can be done will be done and I’ll make sure that happens," he said.
When asked about the flooding at St Saviours Avenue, Blake Gardens and earlier at Westonzoyland, the PM said: "We are working to protect those communities which have been flooded but we also need to think about those vulnerable areas in the country and the town which have yet to flood and take action where we can."
He commended the "spirit of neighbours" he had seen during his visit, and the work of the Marines who have been distributing sandbags, adding that while he had seen detailed maps, photos and analysis of the situation in Somerset, "nothing really compares to seeing some of it for yourself."
The PM also visited the Somerset Levels and met farmer Tony Davy at Goodings Farm, which is flooded out at Fordgate.
Sedgemoor Direct, our call centre, remains open until 10pm to handle flood response enquiries- 0845 408 2540/ 01278 435435 #somersetfloods— @SedgemoorDC 07 February 2014
RT @David_Cameron: Meeting firemen who have been helping the clear-up after serious flooding at Goodings Farm in Somerset. http://t.co/c0Jt…— @Conservatives 07 February 2014
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is currently moving its mobile treatment centre to the Westfield Church rest centre in Bridgwater.
Volunteers are at the rest centre to assist anyone, providing food and blankets and helping find accommodation, alongside medical support by the Red Cross or SWASFT.
The rest centre will remain open 24/7 for the next week.
David Cameron also met with Somerset County Council Leader John Osman today.
The Prime Minister met Cllr Osman during his visit to the flood hit county, and thanked all agency staff and the many volunteers for their efforts.
Cllr Osman said: “I’m delighted that the Prime Minister recognised all the hard work and many hours that so many people have put in over the last few weeks.
“This includes everyone from our social workers in rest centres to our highways teams busy working through the night to keep roads clears. They’ve all had a pat on the back.
“He visited our county, saw for himself the devastation and expressed his sympathy and support for all those affected.
“Mr Cameron reiterated his commitment to investing in Somerset and pledged to provide as much help as needed.
“It was a really positive meeting and I’m thankful for him coming down.”
Over the past seven weeks Somerset County Council says it has funded a relief boat to serve stranded villagers in Muchelney, sent social workers to check on vulnerable adults and children, helped keep roads clear as much as possible, and worked alongside the emergency services and other agencies to keep people safe.
Lord Smith, the chairman of the Environment Agency, was also in Somerset today and during his visit met with the council’s deputy chief executive Pat Flaherty – who is acting chief executive in the absence of Sheila Wheeler - to discuss the floods situation.
Mr Flaherty said: “It was a positive meeting and we agreed to help each other as much as we can, particularly focusing on beginning to dredge the rivers as soon as possible and long term solutions to make sure that we don’t endure these floods again.”
I just attended a very practical & useful meeting with the Prime Minister, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP & residents of flooded Somerset villages.— @ngargan_police 07 February 2014
The Prime Minister told the BBC: “Clearly people here faced a very tough time and continue to face a tough time and that’s why we have got to do everything we can to help.
“So more pumps, we brought in more pumps. More help from the emergency services, more help is there. More money to help Somerset get back on its feet, the money is there.
"The Army coming in to help, whether it’s helping with sandbags, which they have been doing over the last 24 hours or looking to see whether temporary bridges could be put in place.
"Everything that can be done, will be done and I will make sure that happens.
“There are lessons to learn.
"One of the big ones is that the pause in dredging that took place from the late 1990s – that was wrong and we need to get dredging again.”
David Cameron with Ian Liddell-Grainger, left, on the Somerset Levels earlier today.
The Prime Minister recorded an interview with the BBC on the Somerset Levels before he made his way to Bridgwater where he is due to talk to reporters.
Mr Cameron said there are "lessons to learn" and "everything that can be done, will be done."
He added that there was money and help available "to get Somerset back on its feet."
Still waiting for Cameron to talk to the press...'still waiting' seems to sum it up— @MercuryKJames 07 February 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron is currently inside Sedgemoor District Council's offices.
THE severe risk of flooding in communities across Taunton Deane will require a wide range of solutions to protect local people, according to MP Jeremy Browne.
He was speaking after visiting the Cross Keys pub, in Norton Fitzwarren, which flooded last winter and is at continued risk.
Mr Browne said: "The flooding on the Somerset Levels has caused devastation.
“The Government and the Environment Agency could have done more to reduce the flooding threat but I am pleased that there is now a determination to take real action.
"Dredging the rivers will help but it is not the whole solution.
“There needs to be a wide-ranging effort to manage the risk from flooding more effectively.
“The damage caused by flooding in Somerset this winter must act as a wake-up call for the Government and the Environment Agency.
"Every area of flood defences needs to be improved.
“New housing development should not be allowed if it increases the risk of flooding.
“The whole river catchment needs to be managed effectively, with more trees and, if necessary, different farming practices to slow the rates of water run-off.
“Drains need to be better maintained to protect properties that have been flooded despite not being near a river.
"The Cross Keys in Norton Fitzwarren was closed from 22 November 22, 2012, to March 8, 2013, because of flooding. The cost of refurbishing the pub was £500,000.
“Even that enormous amount of money does not take account of the lost business. They have had help from the fire and rescue service to pump away water this year. Other businesses across Taunton Deane are also losing money due to the flooding.
"This is a very difficult time for many people across Taunton Deane. Local residents are fearful about the risk of flooding.
“When the weather eventually improves and the flood risk subsides there must be a concerted effort to reduce the threat from flooding in future years."
(Jeremy Browne assesses the flooding threat at the Cross Keys in Norton Fitzwarren - which closed last year - with deputy manager Adam Davies and head chef Shaun Patterson)
Cameron has met with cattle farmer Tony Davy at Fordgate. He owns 100 acres of land and it's under water— @MercuryKJames 07 February 2014
THE Environment Agency has just issued this statement:
“Large waves and strong winds are threatening to cause further significant flooding along the Devon and Dorset coasts on Saturday where some communities and defences are vulnerable after this week’s storms.
“Further heavy rainfall is expected starting on Friday evening continuing into Saturday, exacerbating the risks of flooding from rivers and surface water across the South-West, Central and South-East of England.
“The ground across southern England is already saturated and every 10mm of rain falling on a square metre of land is equivalent to 10 litres of water.
“Severe flood warnings – which means there is a risk to life – remain in place for the Somerset Levels today as successive bands of rain show no signs of easing.
“Environment Agency teams will continue to be out on the Levels today pumping nearly three million tonnes of water away.
“Environment Agency chairman Lord (Chris) Smith visited the Levels today (Friday) to talk and listen to those affected by flooding and thank operational staff who have been working 24 hours a day for the last month.
“As of 3.30pm today, there are two severe flood warnings, 166 flood warnings and 302 flood alerts in place across England and Wales. Flood warnings are updated on the Environment Agency website every 15 minutes.
“The country has faced an extraordinary period of severe weather and flooding with an ongoing sequence of depressions bringing rain and high winds to many areas with very few dry days since December 12.
“In January, the wettest on record, there were 23 rainy days. Southern England saw the wettest December in 50 years and the country also faced the largest storm surge in 60 years.
“Since the start of December, 5,000 properties have flooded, including 60 on the Somerset Levels. However, flood schemes have defended more than 1.3million homes and businesses and protected nearly 2,500 square kilometres of farmland across England.
“Since Friday evening over 160,000 homes have been protected from flooding and over 109,000 properties have been sent a free flood warning.
“Environment Agency staff continue to be out in force 24/7 deploying demountable defences, repairing damaged coastal defences, deploying sandbags along riverbanks, clearing river blockages, monitoring water levels and sending out flood warnings.
“Environment Agency staff from across the country have been sent to provide support in affected areas.
“The pumping operation on the Somerset Levels continues around the clock, with up to 2.9million tonnes of water being pumped off the Levels every day – the equivalent of filling up Wembley Stadium three times.”
Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith said: “The last two months have seen the country face some extraordinary severe weather, the wettest January in nearly 250 years and the largest storm surge in 60 years.
“EA flood defences have protected 1.3million properties and our teams have been working round the clock to protect people and property in the face of extreme weather.
“On the Somerset Levels I met with people who had experienced terrible weeks of flooding and was able to express my sincere sympathies; flooding has a dreadful impact on people’s lives and my heart goes out to them.
“I have talked with residents about the future of the Somerset Levels and how we can work together with partners to deal with the flooding.
“Dredging will form part of the answer and work will commence as soon as safe to do so. In the meantime our pumps continue to operate 24/7 to drain water away.
“This weekend will see no respite in the extreme weather and I urge people especially in southern England to be prepared for further flooding and to sign up to EA flood warnings.”
Moving food for evacuated cattle #somersetfloods http://t.co/oKD1TBTQJR— @dredgetherivers 07 February 2014
DISTRICT councillor Gill Slattery said Lord Smith listened carefully to the concerns of various people affected by the flooding during the meeting in Stoke St Gregory.
She said: “There was a clear exchange of views and Lord Smith drew conclusions from the various threads that were coming through lots of people’s problems.
“He understood the importance of many Government departments needing to work much more sympathetically for the people who have been affected.”
Mrs Slattery said the VAT office now understands the financial woes of farmers whose land is underwater and the need for them to make staged payments.
“Lord Smith understood the crucial role the lead flood authority (Somerset County Council) needs to play and will be having discussion with them,” said Mrs Slattery.
“I’m pleased with the way Taunton Deane Council has responded to this appalling situation by donating £50,000 into a fund for ensuring dredging and maintenance goes ahead.
“He has a really good understanding that dredging is the first thing to do, but the management of the whole catchment, particularly upland areas, is very significant and possibly cheaper.”
She said that upland farmers need to be encouraged to manage their land and retain water close to where it falls.
Mrs Slattery said that a study following flooding in June 2012 recommended dredging, although the Treasury had not been prepared to fund it, which she views as “completely iniquitous to the people of Somerset”.
The Government now appears to be making the county “a special case” – but Mrs Slattery wants to be sure “this is actually deliverable”.
Speaking earlier today Levels resident Julian Green confronted Lord Smith during his visit to the Levels.
An emotional Mr Green, who had attempted to slow vehicles driving past his property to stop their waves causing flooding to his home, said: “We just need something done, it’s as simple as that.
“We have got vehicles going up and down the road.
“They’re trying their hardest these farmers to get their animals out and get all this done.
“The best they can do is get them out to wherever they can go.
“Our house is going under, it’s as simple as that. We’re one of the last ones. Moorland’s gone.
“Sort the rivers out!”
In reply, Lord Smith said: “That is precisely what we are going to try and do over the course of the next few months. The most important thing is to get the dredging of the Tone and Parrett started.”
Asked whether he thought Lord Smith should resign, Mr Green said: “Yes. Without a doubt and I’m not the only one round here who would like him to resign.
“Earlier he was blocked in by people whose homes were under water and whose homes were under threat. We have had this for too long now. We have had this for five weeks. Moorland has now had it.”
In response, Lord Smith said: “As I have said before I have no intention of doing so [resigning] because there is important work to be done getting the dredging started as soon as possible and getting the long term solutions for the Somerset Levels sorted out which will involve an awful lot more than just the dredging.”
Asked whether he thought dredging was the answer, Lord Smith said: “I have always said that dredging is part of the answer.”
SALLY Bowes heckled Lord Smith when he arrived at Stanmoor Bridge.
She said: “I asked him when he was going to apologise.
“This has been going on for four to six weeks and he’s not doing anything.
“We’ve been working hard supporting each other – sandbagging, rescuing ponies – and we’re looking out on what looks like an open sea.
“It takes two hours to get my children to school and we’re not getting the help we need.”
PUB landlord Jim Winkworth has been ensuring work can go on at ventilation firm Airtech, in the village of Burrowbridge.
He has been ferrying staff to the premises with his Land Rover and trailer.
Airtech boss John Davison said: “We employ over 100 people and compared to a lot of people we’re just inconvenienced – we’re not underwater.
“But it’s increasingly difficult getting supplies in and deliveries out – we send two 40ft TNT containers out every day and are at the point where we might not be able to do that much longer.
“Jim has been bringing people in so they avoid having to make a 30-mile detour.
“We’ve been saying, ‘Dredge the river’. You can see how much smaller the river is since they stopped dredging.
“If they’d dredged, Moorland wouldn’t be under water and Muchelney wouldn’t be cut off.
“When you’ve got what is basically a drain working at only 40% of its capacity, it’s going to cause major problems.”
PRIME Minister David Cameron has arrived in Somerset in connection with the dramatic flooding of the past few weeks, it is understood.
MARINES from 40 Commando preparing the causeway at East Lyng earlier today.
They were removing the bottom section of the fencing to allow flood water to pass through and down over the causeway to avoid flooding East Lyng Houses.
(PHOTO: Lord Parker Photography)
Somerset County Council chiefs have also been visiting flood-hit communities today.
Leader John Osman and deputy leader David Hall said they visited to see the extent of the crisis, listen to people’s views and pledge their support.
They went to Moorland and a rest centre set up for evacuated residents at Westfield Church in Bridgwater.
Cllr Osman said: “To see families forced to leave their homes because of floodwater is just devastating and I can only imagine what they are going through.
“The message from everyone I met came across loud and clear – more needs to be done, and I am determined that the views of those worst affected will be heard further up the line.
“It was heartening to see so many volunteers on the ground working hard alongside our own staff from the County Council and those from the District Councils, Environment Agency, emergency services and the military.
"I would like to thank them all for their efforts and I know this will continue for as long as needed.”
Somerset County Council has pledged £50,000 towards the Somerset Community Foundation’s Emergency Flood Relief Fund which helps people in the immediate aftermath of flooding.
To make a donation please visit www.somersetcf.org.uk or telephone 01749 344949.
You can also send a cheque made payable to Somerset Community Foundation with Flood Relief written on the back to Yeoman House, Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN.
A third of flood-related deaths involve a vehicle because drivers take unnecessary risks. Never drive through flood water. #floodaware— @EnvAgency 07 February 2014
Please be aware that we do not recover vehicles stuck in #floodwater, only people at risk. And calling a recovery service can be expensive!— @DSFireUpdates 07 February 2014
After Lord Smith’s visit, Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for West Somerset and Bridgwater, said: “I’m pleased he’s come down but I think it’s insulting he’s come down after writing what he did in the Daily Telegraph about the choice between front rooms and farmland.
“He spends £31million on a bird sanctuary at Steart and won’t spend £5million to upgrade the river - this man simply failed dismally to do his job.
"It’s simply unacceptable.
“Meanwhile, everything I have asked for of the Prime Minister and Owen Paterson, I have got.”
AFTER meeting Lord Smith this morning, pub landlord Jim Winkworth, from Burrowbridge, said: “The Environment Agency had £400,000 and just put it in a drawer for dredging. That’s why nothing was done.
“Lord Smith hasn’t come down to apologise which he should be doing. If you apologise it means you’re sorry you’ve messed up.
“Whoever gets his job when he steps down in four months time needs to listen to the people on the ground and get some work done – dredging and maintaining the structures.
“If it had been done properly, we’re be farming, looking after our businesses instead of baling out.
“Lord Smith has done nothing to stop flooding on the Levels – he’s let himself down, he’s let his organisation down and he’s let us down.”
DURING his visit to the Willows and Wetlands Centre, in Stoke St Gregory, Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith said: “I’ve met a large number of local people very severely affected by the extreme weather and flooding that have been happening over the past few weeks.”
He added: “We came here because it was a space in this village which is on the edge of one of the major flooded areas.
“I’ve been talking with the residents about what’s happened over recent years and what we’re now able to do because of the money the Government’s put in.
“We’ll be able to do a full dredge of 8km of the Tone and Parrett – it’s only because the money is now on the table that we’re able to undertake that.”
Lord Smith said the EA had a pot of £400,000 on the table last year, which will now be boosted by £10million pledged this week by the Government to help tackle flooding on the Levels.
He said he had no intention of resigning from his post, adding: “I’m very proud of the work that the EA staff have been doing up and down the country over the last few months, faced with the most extreme weather we have seen for years and the wettest January since records began.
“I don’t think anyone can promise that we won’t see the sort of rainfall that we have been having over the last few months – increasingly erratic weather, very extreme amounts of rainfall and I expect we’ll see more of that over the next few years.”
Lord Smith, who declined to apologise to the people on the Levels, said he had been misquoted and never said the countryside should be flooded to save towns – he said the top priorities were first protecting lives; second homes and businesses; and third as much agricultural land as possible.
1:45pm Fri 7 Feb 14
lots of rumours spreading based on men in sharp suits talking into their wrists, car park spaces being coned off, cars with darkened windows.
Either Grot Bags coming to town or is Dave on hi way?
Somerset, Devon & Dorset are warned to prepare for heavy rain, high winds and large waves tonight and tomorrow morning....— @EnvAgency 07 February 2014
MICHELLE Betts, from the rest centre, said: "The offers and contributions have been amazing. All sorts of people have come in offering food and accommodation."
RAY Weaver, Eileen Smith, Ruth Weaver and Patricia Bean from the Royal Voluntary Service, with food that people have donated to the rest centre at Westfield Church, Bridgwater. (Photo: Joe Dempsey)
STAFF from Asda in Bridgwater delivered food to the rest centre at Westfield Church this afternoon.
Rob Gerred, store manager, said: "I woke up this morning and saw the pictures on the news and wanted to help.
"We have a programme called the Asda Foundation where we assist charities so through that we called up the rest centre and asked what they needed.
"We offered to put together food hampers to give to people in need."
Rob is pictured with Tim Robbins, Alice Simcox, Amy Aitchison and Laura Hackling. (Photo: Joe Dempsey)
Screen grabs from BBC News' helicopter footage of Lord Smith's visit to the Levels just now.
@tdbc DLO working 24/7 to maintain sandbag supply http://t.co/YPhTbNzURv— @TDBC 07 February 2014
Jim Winkworth, landlord of The King Alfred Inn, at Burrowbridge, was among those Lord Smith spoke to.
Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, surrounded by media during his visit to the Willow and Wetlands Centre, in Stoke St Gregory.
YEOVIL Town is asking fans to volunteer to help the groundstaff remove the covers off the Huish Park pitch tomorrow morning.
Fans are being asked to arrive at around 7am at gate five to help with the removal of the covers.
The Glovers are due to play Leeds United at 12.15pm tomorrow, live on Sky.
SPEAKING at the Willows and Wetlands Centre in Stoke St Gregory, Lord Smith said he was proud of the work that the Environment Agency and its staff have done.
The chief announced the Environment Agency will dredge 8km of the rivers Tone and Parrett.
He also said he has no intention of resigning over the flood response.
Jim Winkworth from FLAG (Flooding on the Levels Action Group), accused the Environment Agency chairman of doing nothing.
After a brief press conference outside the centre, Lord Smith is back inside having another meeting.
AND this shows why they're there...
ROYAL Marines helping out in Moorland this morning (Video: Kirsty James)
A HUMANITARIAN charity is offering its help to communities in need of food and clean drinking water.
Khalsa Aid is encouraging people in need to get in touch.
Bal Sandhu said: "We have the man power and teams on standby to help. Funding is not an issue so we are encouraging people in need to get in touch."
Contact Bal on 07903578250 or email email@example.com for help or more details.
BARONESS Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville called for support for authorities in charging drivers who are removing “Road Closed” barriers in the House of Lords.
Baroness Bakewell, a former Leader of Somerset County Council, took part in a Question Session on flooding in Somerset and condemned the actions of those ignoring the advice of emergency services by driving through floodwaters.
Speaking in the Chamber, Baroness Bakewell asked the Lords’ Minister:
“Where drivers recklessly enter floodwaters by removing “Road Closed” barriers, will the Minister join me, a resident of Somerset, in supporting the emergency services in charging those thoughtless people who have to be rescued, sometimes more than once?”
Baroness Bakewell said: “As the floodwaters spread to areas previously not affected, there is an ever increasing demand on the scarce resources of the Fire and Rescue and Army services.
“I share the frustration for those residents across Somerset who now find their journey time significantly increased. However, to remove “Road Closed” barriers is reckless and putting more strain on our already stretched emergency services.
“All road users must ensure that they take seriously the measures put in place to close roads and keep drivers safe.”
Baroness Bakewell has raised the issue of flooding in Somerset in the House of Lords before, previously citing the issues surrounding risks to mental health of those residents and business owners affected.
TWO elderly people were rescued from their home in Burrowbridge this morning.
Firefighters found four feet of water inside the property when they were called shortly before 9.30am.
The two occupants were taken to safety by a tractor.
LORD Smith is currently in a room at the Willows and Wetlands Centre, meeting privately with farmers and other residents of Burrowbridge and the surrounding areas who have been affected by flooding.
Media wait for Lord Smith of Environment Agency after he meets with locals over flooding. http://t.co/zxf9XJYThj— @BeebJournalist 07 February 2014
Currently 8 pumps in Moorland looking to move 2 pumps to Northmoor Green when conditions allow #somersetfloods— @EnvAgencySW 07 February 2014
MARY Tyrer, the founder of the HOPE Dartmoorhill Pony Rescue centre is urgently appealing for donations after having to make an emergency evacuation of more than 15 ponies and horses from Stoke St Gregory late last night.
A distraught Mary said: "I’m totally devastated. We are desperate. I just don’t know what to do to be honest.
“We were moving all the ponies until midnight last night, and we have had to move our four cats and three dogs.
“Eight of the ponies are all in an emergency place near Chard at the moment, and it’s costing us £80 a day to keep them there.
“We can’t afford to do this for the long term, so we either need somewhere else for them to go – we don’t know how long this is going to carry on for.”
The rescue centre, where Mary and husband Mark act “as a foster service” for the ponies and horses, has rescued over 300 ponies in the last three years, after starting out with just 9.
“Some people have been so kind. But now, we need rescuing ourselves. Our dream home is flooded.” says Mary.
Mary and husband Mark got an emergency text through at 1am this morning to leave their premises. They’re now sleeping in a static caravan.
Mary says: “All our animals are scattered all over Devon and Somerset. They’re my children. One of the ponies took two hours to load last night, because it was so distressed.”
CAN you help? Call Mary on 07789-676116, visit their Facebook page, or make a donation to HOPE Dartmoorhill Pony Rescue’s Paypal account on firstname.lastname@example.org
Officers, PCSOs & @ASPoliceHorses continue to patrol places affected by #SomersetFloods. Please stop them if you need any advice or support.— @ASPolice 07 February 2014
ROYAL Marines from 40 Commando in Moorland this morning.
Owing to flooding between Taunton and Bridgwater all lines are affected. Services may be cancelled or delayed by up to 45 mins.— @FGW 07 February 2014
THREE people were arrested overnight on suspicion of going equipped to steal fuel on the Somerset Levels, police have just revealed.
Officers stopped a 4X4 vehicle, containing large drums and an electric pump, at 4am in Kingsdown, just east of Muchelney.
The men, aged 51, 35 and 24, are in custody at Yeovil police station.
Barbara Taylor and husband Derek Taylor, from Moorland, were also at the rest centre in Bridgwater.
Barbara said: “We haven’t had sleep for at least two nights now.
"You cannot help waking up and having a look outside at the rising water.
"By last night the water was up to the house. It was rising up so fast we couldn’t get out at all.
"The firemen knocked on the door at 2am. The police brought us here.
"It was quite comforting, although they weren’t local so we had to direct them to the church.
"The people here were very caring. As soon as we got in they told us you are safe, you will be warm here and we will make you a nice cup of tea.
"We are going to get in touch with our son. He lives in Moorland but is on much higher ground.”
Any offers of support whether it be: accomodation, cattle feed, bedding etc please call our contact centre on: 0845 408 2540— @SedgemoorDC 07 February 2014
Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, is visiting Moorland today.
He said: "We are fighting and we will get through it. It's going to be hard but we will get through this."
Mr Liddell-Grainger also said it was "disgraceful" he learned of the visit of Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith through the media.
He added: "He is a politician and a peer and he hasn't had the courtesy to tell me that he is coming to my constituency."
The Environment Agency has not yet released any details of Lord Smith's visit but confirmed the chief is "on route" to the Somerst Levels.
Some 80 homes have been affected by the events in Moorland in the early hours of this morning, with 60 homes evacuated.
Somerset County Council said around 30 residents decided to stay in their homes but these tend to be those on slightly higher ground.
Council leader John Osman said: “This crisis is hugely traumatic for our residents and communities.
"I know that everyone in Somerset is thinking of them at this time and I want to thank all those people who have been helping those so badly affected, whether emergency services, military personnel, our fantastic volunteers and particularly our council staff and those of other local authorities and agencies.
"On the ground they are working incredibly hard to protect communities and keep people safe."
Livestock moved from the flooded moors is being stored at the Junction 24 market in Bridgwater.
It is thought they belong to flooded farmer James Winslade, who was trying to move his cattle there yesterday.
(Rob Venner, an auctioneer with Greenslade Taylor Hunt, looks after the livestock at Junction 24).
Police have released FAQs and information for those affected by flooding.
Click here to read more.
#Somerset #Flood #Crisis Along the roads everywhere are attempts to hold back the cold water http://t.co/HQu6XNXAsB— @SomersetSG 07 February 2014
Avon and Somerset's Search and Rescue team has stood down for now after being called out overnight to help at Moorland.
Talk about an early start, I think we hit the ground running.Another day of endless emotions as we battle to help others in #moorland #FLOOD— @SouthWestFarm 07 February 2014
Our thoughts are with those that had to evacuate their homes in Moorland. Great team effort with EA @ASPolice & volunteers #somersetfloods— @EnvAgencySW 07 February 2014
Just spoken to Env Agency. Lord Smith is "on route" to the Somerset Levels but no details yet of where he'll be or when #Somersetfloods— @GazetteMMarsh 07 February 2014
Members of St John Ambulance are helping stranded villagers from Moorland at Westfield Church.
Pictured above are Natalie Evans, Stacey Webb and Neil Parsons.
Jerry Milton, rest centre manager at Westfield Church, said evacuees had been arriving since 2am today.
He said the centre would be staying open 24/7 for the next week for those in need.
Brenda Lawlor, above, has been at the rest centre since 4am.
She was evacuated from her home in Moorland by firefighters this morning, along with her son, Rob, and dog, Toby.
She said her neighbours had left their home three weeks ago, but she stayed behind because she needed to look after her cats and dog.
She added: "When it got worse and they said the water level would rise three feet overnight, we decided to evacuate.
"We were driven here by the firemen. Toby had to be carried into the fire engine by one of the firemen because the water was too deep for his small legs."
Our reporter Joe Dempsey is at Westfield Church in Bridgwater.
He says there are around 15 evacuees from Moorland in the building, including three children.
On the roads, the A372 is closed at Othery and Huish Episcopi.
The A361 at Burrowbridge is also closed.
The A39 remains open, although parts of the road at Dunster and Washford are partially blocked due to flooding.
Due to flooding between Taunton and Castle Cary all lines are closed. Train services through these stations may be revised at short notice— @FGW 07 February 2014
Angela Greenway told the BBC she was woken at 3.30am by firefighters knocking at her door telling her to leave.
She is staying put for now, as her home in Moorland is on higher ground, but admitted the situation was "terrifying".
Around 30 villagers are believed to have stayed in Moorland, however others are heading this morning to the rest centre at Westfield Church in Bridgwater.
The Environment Agency has two severe flood warnings in place - one at Salt Moor and North Moor, and the other from East Lyng to Burrowbridge.
There are 27 other flood warnings in place for the South-West.
Some villagers who live on higher ground are remaining in Moorland.
The electricity supply is apparently unaffected.
THIS statement came from Avon and Somerset Police this morning:
"Residents in the Somerset village of Moorland are stongly advised to evacuate their homes.
"Earlier this morning local flood defences were breached and the water level in Moorland began rising.
"We are have been informing local residents and strongly advising them to leave the area.
"Most are taking this advice and a rest centre has been established for those affected at Westfield Church on West Street, Bridgwater.
"The Royal Marines and search and rescue volunteers are assisting us with this.
"Police will remain in the area to help those who wish to evacuate.
"Access into the village will be monitored and along with the Fire and Rescue Service we will be patrolling the area."
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