Environment Agency: 'Could have done better over flooding'

The Environment Agency chairman has admitted to ITV News that "we could have done better" in tackling the flooded areas in Somerset. But Lord Smith defended the agency's priorities, saying they were working with a "purse that was not limitless."

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Irish coastal town of Lahinch battered by giant waves

The coastal town of Lahinch, Co Clare, in the Republic of Ireland has been battered by giant waves by high winds and tides.

Large waves wash over buildings on the seafront of the coastal town of Lahinch. Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The waves washed over three storey guest houses on the seafront and huge boulders were swept away into a car park

Winds have been gusting up to 75 mph, according to the Met Eireann. Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The waves covered large areas of the seafront. Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Flood waters have 60 times amount of bacteria

The University of Reading examined flood waters from Somerset Credit: Press Association Images

Tests from microbiologists from the University of Reading have found flood waters which contain 60 times the amount of safe bacteria for agricultural water. The water from Moorland in Somerset contained 60,000 to 70,000 bacteria per 100 millilitres.

According to the World Health Organisation agricultural water should have no more than 1,000 bacteria per 100 millilitres. Microbiologist Nathaniel Storey, who carried out the research, said the results were not unexpected given the extent of the flooding.

He said: 'It's perhaps unsurprising considering there's septic tanks in these people's gardens that are overflowing and animals within close proximity. Therefore all this excrement that's in these areas is being dredged up by the floodwater and taken into houses and into gardens.'

The research was commissioned by Sky News.

COBRA: 'Everything possible is being done'

The emergency committee COBR has met today to discuss the flooding. The committee spoke to representations from several government departments including DEFRA, the MOD and the Department of Health as well as local agencies led by Avon and Somerset Police.

Everything possible is being done over the weekend to help those affected by flooding and to prepare for the further bad weather and high tides forecast overnight and into next week.

The Environment Agency continues to work hard to protect communities from flooding and alert them to the risks. 71,000 properties are currently being protected and the government is offering full assistance to the local authorities and emergency services. All requests for support have been met.

Five severe flood warnings are in place and I urge anyone living in an area at risk to remain vigilant and listen to the advice issued by the Environment Agency and emergency services.

– Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary

PHE: Wash hands to avoid flood water contamination

Flood water covers part of the Somerset Levels near Burrowbridge. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

People in flooded areas have "nothing to panic about" from contaminated water if they keep washing their hands Public Health England (PHE) says.

Debbie Stark, a consultant with Public Health England's Devon, Cornwall and Somerset Centre, said: "Advice has been given regularly to local people about minimising any health risk.

"This includes avoiding contact with flood water, washing hands and food preparation surfaces and not eating food that has touched flood water."

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Five severe flood warnings remain in place in England

Five severe flood warnings and over 160 flood warnings remain in place due to strong winds, high tides and swollen rivers, the Environment Agency has said.

The severe flood warnings are in place for Cornwall, north Devon and the River Severn.

River defence barriers are put in place as the river Avon in Bristol, floods surrounding roads. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Kate Marks, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, said: "A low pressure system combining with high tides brings a risk of coastal flooding to many parts of England.

"The risk is highest for south west England, although many coastal areas will be affected and the public should stay away from coastlines and tidal areas and not drive through flood water".

Families rescued from homes Ireland flash floods

Families had to be rescued from their homes as parts of the Republic of Ireland were hit with gale force winds, heavy rain and serious flooding.

Emergency workers rescue residents after a flash flood on the Lee Estate in Limerick City. Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Limerick was among the worst hit areas, and emergency services used boats to rescue people from the city's Lee housing estate.

Cars submerged in water after a flash flood on the Lee Estate in Limerick City Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Large waves batter coast of Northern Ireland

Huge waves were breaking over the waterfronts along the coasts of Northern Ireland at high tide today.

The coast road at Carnlough in Co Antrim, at high tide, as waves break over the front. Credit: Paul Faith/PA

A number of flights out of Dublin Airport have been cancelled as Ireland was battered by strong winds with gusts of almost 75mph.

Motorists on the coast road at Carnlough in Co Antrim Credit: Paul Faith/PA
Motorists on the coast road at Carnlough in Co Antrim Credit: Paul Faith/PA

A combination of rain, high tides and strong winds means there is a "strong risk" of flooding in coastal areas across England and Wales.

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