France and Britain battered by Dennis as ‘danger to life’ warning is issued

Waves crash against the breakwater during Storm Ciara at Wimereux, France, February 10, 2020.
Waves crash against the breakwater during Storm Ciara at Wimereux, France, February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Britain on Monday began to clear up after Storm Dennis battered the country over the weekend, leading the government's weather agency to issue a rare "danger to life" warning amid widespread flooding and high winds.


Hundreds of flood warnings remained in place, including five "severe" warnings around the River Teme in Worcestershire in western England, after more than a month's worth of rain fell in 48 hours in some parts of Britain.

Warnings in place

A record 594 warnings and alerts had been put in place on Sunday, extending from Scotland's River Tweed to Cornwall in southwest England, while major incidents were declared in South Wales and parts of western England due to flooding.

The storm also battered much of France, with some 20,000 people still without electricity on Monday after suffering power cuts in the northwest of the country and rail traffic disrupted.

In south Wales, the government's weather agency issued a rare red warning, saying there was a risk of "significant impacts from flooding" that included a "danger to life from fast flowing water, extensive flooding to property and road closures".

Pictures circulated on social media showed the nearby River Taff bursting its banks, while rescue workers rushed to reach people trapped in their homes in Powys.

Police said a man in his 60s died after entering the River Tawe, north of the Welsh city Swansea, but later clarified that the death was not "linked to the adverse weather".

Winds of over 90 miles (150 kilometres) per hour were recorded in Aberdaron, south Wales.

Bodies pulled from sea 

In northern England, the government deployed the army to help deal with the situation.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, visiting York, said the government had done "everything that we can do with a significant sum of money" to combat increased flooding.

"We'll never be able to protect every single household just because of the nature of climate change and the fact that these weather events are becoming more extreme," he added.

Roads and railways across Britain were badly affected by the downpours and winds, having barely recovered from a similar storm last week.

The defence ministry deployed troops in West Yorkshire, northern England, which suffered badly from flooding caused by last weekend's Storm Ciara.

"Our armed forces are always ready to support local authorities and communities whenever they need it," said defence minister Ben Wallace.

British Airways and easyJet confirmed they had grounded flights, with footage posted online showing a massive Airbus A380 jet being blown about as it attempted to land.

Earlier, two bodies were pulled from rough seas off the south England coast on Saturday as the storm barrelled in.

One of the men is assumed to have been the subject of a search triggered when an LPG tanker reported that one of its crew was unaccounted for.

France was also affected by the storm, especially northwestern Brittany where the Finistere and Morbihan regions were temporarily placed on orange alert for rain and flooding, according to the national weather service, Meteo-France.

Electricity provider Enedis said it had deployed 450 staff to restore power to 30,000 homes in Brittany. Power cuts also hit parts of northern and central France.

The storm interrupted two high-speed TGV train services, one stopped by a fallen tree and the other by a power failure, the national rail company SNCF said.

By Sunday evening, Meteo-France said the worst seemed to have passed as winds dropped to below 100 kph.

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