Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in the Western Daily Press, has expressed his sympathy for victims of flooding on the Somerset Levels.
He admits that the Government's initial response was not robust enough and details his plans for tackling the problem.
Mr Cameron writes:
Like everybody across the country I feel enormous sympathy for the people who live on the Somerset Levels and are suffering from the devastating impact of the flooding.
I know that a great deal of work has been done to try and alleviate the situation but it is not acceptable for people to have to live like this almost four weeks later - and I am not ruling out any option to get this problem sorted out.
The Government is doing everything we can to help people recover as quickly as possible where they have suffered damage to their homes and businesses. On Wednesday night the Ministry of Defence deployed military planners to work with Somerset County Council to decide what military support they needed, and continue to offer planning support to local teams. The fire and rescue service has sent specialist vehicles including two hovercraft to help transport people whose homes are cut off.
This is happening whilst the Environment Agency continues with the biggest pumping operation the country has even seen - 62 pumps, 24-hours a day, draining an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of water (equivalent to 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools) off the Levels -and another 10 high-volume pumps have been sent to affected areas, which will start operating as soon as there is capacity in the rivers to support them.
Dredging will also begin as soon it is safe to do so – and the Environment Agency will spend the coming months improving river flows across the south west, including dredging and weed clearance
But we need long-term action to reduce the risk of this happening again. That is why Owen Paterson is working with the Environment Agency and local agencies in Somerset to deliver a robust plan for the next 20 years.
Flooding wreaks havoc in communities and businesses. And the impact on people’s lives cannot be underestimated.
I want to reassure people in Somerset that I am making sure everything that can be done is being done - every resource is being made available to keep Somerset moving and make it a prosperous place for those that live and work there.
The Western Daily Press deserves credit for highlighting the plight of people affected and challenging government and agencies to provide a stronger response.