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Trouble in Britain: Homes and streets flooded, London commuters stranded as Tube strike bites harder

By News Express on 05/02/2014

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Thousands of homes are flooded, damaged or without power after another violent storm hit Britain’s coast while in London at least four million commuters have been left stranded after a 48-hour Tube strike started last night.

Communities in Cornwall, Devon and in Ireland are under water after rivers burst their banks and sea defences were breached by high tides rushed in on gale-force gusts.

At least 5,000 properties are still without power in the South West and 39,000 homes had to have power restored after winds peaked at 80mph overnight and Western Power Distribution said the violent conditions had caused ‘airborne debris’ to fly into overhead lines and made repairs difficult.

David Cameron confirmed this morning he will chair a meeting of the Cobra committee today to discuss the storm damage and the response.

Meanwhile millions of passengers are suffering a nightmare commute this morning as much of the London Underground was shut down after a two-day strike started and crippled services.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions walked out at 9pm last night in protest at the closure of all ticket offices, with the loss of 950 jobs, leaving reduced services running on most lines.

Miserable travellers are queuing to enter the few stations that were not closed while others stood waiting for buses and taxis from dawn.

As wind, high tides and huge waves continues unabated there are 67 flood warnings and 213 flood alerts in place, according to the Environment Agency.

In the South-West 200 electrical engineers have been working through the night to repair damage caused by debris being blown into overhead lines by strong winds.

‘Over the last 12 hours or so 44,000 customers in the South West have been off supply at some point but we’ve managed to restore it to all but 5,000 homes,’ a spokesman for Western Power Distribution said.

‘It’s an extremely exceptional event. We have new staff being drafted in from nearby to replace our teams this morning. We have a constant approach to this because of the ongoing strong winds.’

A forecaster at the Met Office said the winds in the south west are likely to ‘continue along a similar sort of strength’ into today, and people can expect weather in other areas to be ‘much of the same’ as they have been experiencing.

It issued ‘be prepared’ amber warnings for strong winds across southern England and Wales.

In Kingsand, Cornwall, 30 homes were evacuated as well as others in Torcross, Devon and Brixham Coastguards in Devon said condition at sea were ‘treacherous’.

Police received 400 calls about weather related incidents and 80 trees came down in Devon alone.

Residents were last night evacuated from 30 flooded houses in Kingsand, Cornwall and Tamar Coastguard Rescue Team helped to rescue ‘a number of people’, the coastguard said.

Meanwhile, there were further reports of flooding in Looe, where people were advised to stay away from the seafront amid fears of huge waves battering the coast.

There were also reports that the sea wall had collapsed in Dawlish, Devon, where two people had to be rescued having been rapped in a car.

Meanwhile a mixture of the Tube strike and the terrible weather meant millions were hit by delays and disruption today.

Picket lines were mounted across the capital today outside Tube stations, while the two sides in the dispute continued to argue over the ticket office closures.

Politicians have condemned the industrial action, with Conservatives again calling for changes to employment laws covering the numbers voting for strikes in a ballot.

London’s mayor Boris Johnson called the strike ‘pointless’ and urged the unions to call it off and return to talks.

Bob Crow and Manuel Cortes, leaders of the RMT and TSSA unions, accused the mayor of refusing to meet them to discuss the ticket office closures.

As the row raged, commuters and other passengers faced travel misery until services return to normal on Friday.

Another 48-hour strike is planned from 9pm next Tuesday.

Business groups warned the strikes will cost London’s economy tens of millions of pounds.

Bob Crow described the industrial action as a ‘rock solid’ response.

‘As we expected the action is rock solid this morning and has reduced the network to a skeleton service with only a few ghost trains running through closed stations,’ he said.

‘That is simply a reflection of the staff anger at attempts to bulldoze through cuts to jobs, services and safety which would reduce the Tube to a dangerous, hollowed-out shell’.

Fewer than a third of normal Tube trains were running during this morning's rush hour with ‘overwhelming’ support for the action from his members.

•Excerpted from a Daily Mail report. Photo shows a flooded street.

Source News Express

Posted 05/02/2014 12:38:24 PM

 

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