LONDON • Torrential rain and gale force winds have battered northern Britain, cutting power to thousands of homes and forcing some to evacuate flooded streets in the third major storm in a month.
The Environment Agency said Britain had faced an extraordinary period of severe weather last month, with consultants PwC warning that the latest deluge from Storm Frank could take total losses above £3 billion (S$6.3 billion).
Heavy rain had been predicted for all of Wednesday as the latest storm swept across northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, sparking warnings of more significant flooding.
"The weather remains hugely challenging, with more rain threatening to cause further flooding," said the Environment Agency.
Around 6,700 properties were flooded in north England in the last week as river levels reached all-time highs, while three severe flood warnings remain in place, meaning there is a danger to life.
As much of northern Britain braced itself for further flooding the chief of the Environment Agency came under fire after it emerged that he had spent the last two weeks in Barbados.
Mr Philip Dilley was scheduled to meet flood victims shortly after returning to Britain, saying he had arrived "at the appropriate time".
The agency and the government have been blamed for failing to build adequate flood defences.
The agency has also been also accused of misleading the public after releasing a statement saying that Mr Dilley, a former business adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, was "at home with his family" during floods that hit a day after Christmas.
Mr Dilley defended the agency's response, saying "we've been very effective and efficient in what we've been doing". "Everybody can't be everywhere at the same time," he said of his whereabouts during the most recent wave of flooding, which struck northern England over the Christmas holidays. "I am lucky enough to have two homes so I travel between the two."
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE