River levels have peaked in many areas of the flood-deluged UK, but the aftermath is set to go on for many months. The Gloucestershire town of Tewkesbury is one of those most badly hit – the historic Abbey is almost all that is left above water. Some 4,500 homes in Central and Western England have been flooded and 350,000 people have no fresh water:
Floods Minister John Healey:
‘‘The concern about water supplies now, having got drinking water to most of the areas that we need to, is to keep that going. It may be a good few days or a little longer before the mains water is back on so that people have the water they need for the rest of their everyday life. And clearly in terms of recovery and clean up and getting things back to normal, that may take a number of months.’‘
But for some, that is too long to wait. There have been reports of panic-buying of bottled water, while in Gloucester police officers have been stationed outside supermarkets to maintain order. Emergency co-ordinator Chris Shaw:
‘‘Well I think the big fear is just how people are going to deal with their own sewerage and, without having toilets and WCs available to them, how they are going to deal with that. I think we just urge the public to be careful and not do anything silly and wait and see if we can get something put in place for them to use.’‘
While the waters are receding in some places, the River Thames has yet to peak. Experts say flooding in towns from Oxford to London may be unavoidable.