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Region battered by a 'perfect storm' of rain, high tides and surges

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

The coast of the South West was battered by huge waves yesterday but weather forecasters say the worst could be over

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The worst of the battering from storm surges, freak waves, tides and floods could well be over as the West wakes up this morning – after another day taking a pounding from the elements.

Weather forecasters are predicting the rest of this week will be 'quieter', as floods ease and the stormy seas calm.

Yesterday saw another day of a huge storm surge sending 40ft waves pounding the Dorset and Somerset coasts, with Chesil Beach, Lyme Regis and the famed Jurassic Coast bearing the brunt of a fourth major Atlantic storm in the past three weeks to hit the West.

Coastal flood warnings were issued for much of Dorset, while in north Devon and Somerset, high winds pushed massive waves and high tides.

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Further inland, river flooding was still a major problem.

The centre of Salisbury flooded for the first time in many years when the Wiltshire Avon burst its banks in the southern part of the city.

Salisbury's famous Cathedral Close was under a foot of water, while villages in the valleys either side of the city suffered localised flooding.

In the north of Wiltshire, homes in Kington Langley, Sutton Benger and Christian Malford were cut off when the Bristol Avon rose again, while the River Severn around Gloucester showed little signs of receding from its mammoth flood of the weekend.

With a large area of low pressure moving slowly north of Britain, the unsettled weather looks set to continue for the rest of the week, but not at the extreme levels of wind and rain of the past fortnight.

Paul Mustow, a flood risk manager with the Environment Agency, said: "The risk of flooding continues this week, with communities in the South West urged to be particularly vigilant."

Met Office forecaster Darren Bett said there was light at the end of the tunnel.

"The week ahead should see the weather calming down a bit. The winds will lessen and the rain will die down," he said.

But the promise of peaceful skies by the end of the week were little comfort to householders hit by river flooding from Tewkesbury to Taunton, or those on the coast battered by another huge sea swell and high tide which merged as a "perfect storm" overnight last night.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired another Cobra emergency meeting to ensure agencies are ready to respond, and again defended cuts in spending on the Environment Agency and flood defences.

He said the Government was spending 'more than ever before' on flooding defences and measures to minimise disruption.

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