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Much of England Underwater After Heavy Rains

A milkman delivers milk to a flooded home Monday in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. Flooding has caused widespread disruption across the country, with further regions braced for more floods.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
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A milkman delivers milk to a flooded home Monday in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. Flooding has caused widespread disruption across the country, with further regions braced for more floods.

Intense rainfall in England has caused rivers to burst banks and streets to become like rivers. More than a month's worth of rain doused England and Wales in just hours Friday, forcing evacuation and threatening the water supply. More rain is forecast.

But in what has already become the wettest English summer in living memory, large swaths of western England are underwater. In some areas, residents had just finished clearing up the debris from torrential downpours of last month.

The river Avon and England's longest river, the Severn, have both burst their banks in the west of England; the ancient town of Tewkesbury has been completely cut off by the floods.

Many streets have become virtual rivers, with houses underwater and the floodwater lapping at the foot of the town's 900-year-old Norman abbey.

The rising water has trapped some people in their homes — and those who are able to get out have been rushing to supermarkets to stock up on food and water.

Water companies have pleaded with residents to use water carefully, after one of its treatment plants in Tewkesbury had to be shut down due to flooding.

The British Army and the Royal Air Force have been mobilized to assist in the evacuation of the young and elderly, and the cleanup bill is expected to run to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is visiting Gloucestershire on Monday to see the devastation for himself. But the latest forecasts call for more rain for several days to come, with warnings that the river Thames, just upstream from London, is also in danger of bursting its banks.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.

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