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Flooding and disruption in southern England and Wales as Storm Bella lashes the UK

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By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Flooding and disruption in southern England and Wales as Storm Bella lashes the UK
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Storm Bella continued to lash parts of England and Wales over the weekend causing flooding and disruption and depriving 18,000 homes of electricity in northern France.

Gusts of over 150km per hour were recorded in some parts of the UK with residents in Great Barford in Bedfordshire southeast England — one of the worst affected areas — putting up flood defences and sandbags in attempts to keep rising river waters at bay.

''Everyone rallied round last night from about six o'clock, all the way through to three o'clock this morning, people, local neighbours were digging the trenches, bringing sandbags," resident Jan Schofield explained.

The days of downpours have only added to the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus.

Both Great Barford and Bedford are in Tier 4, England's highest level of COVID-19 restrictions.

''Please don't be heroic, please follow the guidelines, do not do anything that's not approved," urged the leader of Bedford Borough Council, Philip Simpkins. "And also COVID is not going away, this hasn't yet suddenly allowed COVID to disappear, hateful figures remain absolutely high.''

Wales was also hit by the storm with heavy seas and high waves lashing the coast of Porthcawl.

Road and rail travel across Britain has been widely disrupted with the public being advised to check with train operators before setting off.

Northwestern France was also hit by Storm Bella.

Some 18,000 households were left without power on Sunday morning — two-thirds of which in the north-eastern areas of Brittany and Normandy. The remaining 6,000 houses deprived of electricity were in the northern Nord and Pas-de-Calais départements.

Earlier in the morning, gusts of up to 143 km per hour were recorded in Pas-de-Calais.

Some 500 technicians in total across these areas were deployed to reconnect houses to the network, energy operator Enedis said.

France's meteorological agency has removed its amber warning for north-eastern coastal areas but warned in its latest bulletin that the "wave-submersion" phenomenon associated with Storm Bella is remarkable and affects the coastlines of the Atlantic coast".

"Particularly powerful waves affecting the Aquitaine coast require special attention," it added.