Severe weather warning issued for the South

A red alert over bad weather expected during this afternoon and overnight has been issued.

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Military flood aid 'could have come sooner' admits Cabinet minister

The floodwaters remain high across the South Credit: PA Wire

The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storm, a Cabinet minister has admitted.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that, in future, the Government would involve the military earlier and be more "aggressive" in urging local authorities to use troops.

PM David Cameron speaks with Major General Patrick Sanders and Philip Hammond, right, during the Government's emergency Cobra meeting Credit: Neil Hall/PA Wire

As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Mr Hammond said Royal Engineers were now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of "serious" to damage the UK's flood defence infrastructure.

Swathes of the UK remain on high alert as people battle to protect their homes and communities from the floodwaters, which are still expected to rise in places despite the break in the storms.

The Environment Agency (EA) has 16 severe flood warnings in place for the South West and the Thames Valley, with almost 150 flood warnings and 230 flood alerts.

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