Prince Charles praised the sturdy spirit of waterlogged residents of southern and western England on Friday as he visited areas hit by Britain’s worst flooding in more than a half-century.
People working to clean out soggy homes and businesses hoped to avoid more rain after the wettest July since records began. The news was not all good: forecasters predicted more rain on Sunday.
Homeowners in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire counties continued to bail water out of their front doors. Charles has a home in the area.
“I’ve seen some obviously disastrous horrors that have affected so many people. What I have found so wonderful is the spirit the people have displayed,” Charles said in Tewkesbury, one of the hardest-hit towns.
“One of the things I have found about the British is when faced with disaster, it brings out the best in us,” he said.
The prince and his wife, Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, visited the nearby town of Upton-upon-Severn, inspecting flooded homes, buying chocolate cake from a cafe, and stopping for a drink in the water-damaged Ye Olde Anchor pub.
In Tewkesbury, Camilla chatted with a group of men drinking cans of beer in the street. “There’s no water, so we’re drinking beer,” one said.
More rain forecasted
Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by water and electricity shortages as rivers and drainage systems across southern England were overcome by heavy rain in the past week.
This weekend, “we are expecting up to an inch of rain and the area to get the worst of it could be the south Midlands, already the area that has seen the worst of the flooding,” said weather forecaster Tony Conlan. “It’s not guaranteed, but it is possible that it will cause further floods.”
Official figures showed the period from May to July was the wettest since records began being kept in 1766. The average countrywide rainfall of 15.25 inches for May to July is more than twice what it was for that period in each year from 1971 to 2000.
Many remain without drinking water
The Environment Agency said rivers in the flood-hit regions were either subsiding or had crested. But hundreds of thousands of people remained without drinkable running water.
More than 1,000 mobile water tanks have been spread across the flooded regions and the army was distributing millions of bottles of water a day, but frustrated residents complained many of the tanks were consistently empty.
About 10,000 homes in Tewkesbury have a water supply, but residents have been warned not to drink it. More than 300,000 people in the region have been warned that they must wait at least a week before clean water will flow through their taps.
Officials told people in emergency shelters in Oxfordshire that their properties were now out of severe danger of flooding. Eight flood warnings remain in place across the Thames region, but Windsor — where Queen Elizabeth II’s castle looms over the river — and London are expected to stay dry.
A father and son in Tewkesbury were found dead Thursday, believed to have been overcome by fumes from a gas-powered pump as they cleaned up a rugby club house. A 19-year-old Tewkesbury man who disappeared Saturday after leaving a pub amid the flooding remained missing. A woman in the town lost her premature twins when paramedics could not reach her by road when she went into labor.