LEARN FLOOD DRILLS, LONDON; THAMES BARRIER CHIEF'S WARNING AS PRINCES JOIN THE RELIEF EFFORT; Wills and Harry Put Their Backs into It on the Floods Frontline

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

LEARN FLOOD DRILLS, LONDON; THAMES BARRIER CHIEF'S WARNING AS PRINCES JOIN THE RELIEF EFFORT; Wills and Harry Put Their Backs into It on the Floods Frontline


Byline: Mark Blunden and Joe Murphy

LONDONERS were today urged to "know their flood drill" by the man in charge of the Thames Barrier, as fresh torrential rain and high tides strained the capital's defences.

"We're talking about rainfall hitting the Thames upstream today at levels we haven't seen for 60 years," said operations manager Andy Batchelor.

With 17 severe flood warnings and 16,000 homes cut off from power supplies, David Cameron Continued on Page 4 vowed to "fight on every front to help people" and spoke of "a massive national effort".

The Environment Agency said water levels along the Thames would rise during the day, endangering hundreds of homes in Berkshire and Surrey. Some 30,000 sandbags were rushed to the area.

Princes William and Harry joined the flood relief mission by heaving sandbags at Datchet in the crisis-hit Thames Valley -- not far from the Queen's Windsor Castle residence. The Prime Minister said: "We are ensuring that today, before the next rise in the Thames level over the weekend, we do everything we can to protect more homes and communities."

But with an inch of rain expected in the region today and cloudbursts over the weekend, river levels will keep rising as water runs off land. Mr Continued from Page 1 Batchelor said the continuing deluge meant Londoners should learn flood evacuation procedures as rigorously as fire drills.

The 30-year-old barrier, Central London's main flood defence, creates a giant dam spanning the banks at Woolwich. It has been closed repeatedly this winter -- 33 times since last December, compared with just three or four times annually in its early years.

Mr Batchelor said: "We're expecting about another inch of rain to come on already flooded catchments and we've got to manage all of that water coming out through the city.

"Londoners know where their smoke alarm is but don't know their flood drill. It means they could lose their valuable possessions. People must prepare themselves."

A full moon heralded the arrival of spring tides, which mean the highest levels in the tidal Thames -- including the flood-prone 10-mile stretch from Teddington Weir to Putney Bridge.

The Port of London Authority warned rowers to stay off the river due to increasingly strong currents. …

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