Eric Pickles sets out the latest position on the government's response to the extreme weather.
I have chaired this evening’s emergency committee (COBR). The Prime Minister joined the meeting on the telephone from the south west, where he has been witnessing the excellent work teams on the ground are doing to protect homes against further flooding, pump flooded premises and repair damaged infrastructure. The Prime Minister also updated COBR on his meeting at Newquay airport, where there will be additional flights and a reduction in air fares.
As we continue to face these extraordinary weather events, I want to make clear again this evening that work is being done to identify and prioritise any sites where we may experience problems in the coming days. I want to reassure the public that their safety remains our first priority. We are doing everything possible to protect people’s homes and communities. In addition, strategic sites such as water and electrical plants are being given special attention to ensure that homes are not left without vital resources.
Local authorities are being given immediate practical support from government. This includes centralising the control of sandbags, ordering additional temporary flood defences and ensuring that existing defences are being shared and deployed where necessary. Additionally, full military support remains on stand by across the south.
Network Rail is working on a plan to reconnect the affected rail line to the south west. However, 2 out of the 3 rail routes to Exeter are now open.
Sadly, the worst of the bad weather is not over. But we are working tirelessly to deal with the situation on the ground and to prepare and protect vulnerable areas.