COMMUNITIES across Britain are facing fresh misery this weekend as they brace themselves for yet more heavy rain and potential flooding.
The Environment Agency had nine severe flood warnings – meaning a danger to life – in place last night.
There were also 140 flood warnings and 274 flood alerts across the country, including seven alerts in Yorkshire, as a combination of rain, high tides and strong winds means there is a “strong risk” of flooding in coastal areas across England and Wales.
The Met Office has issued warnings of heavy rain and high winds of up to 60mph for many southern and western areas. A band of heavy rain swept across the South West, West Wales and southern England yesterday, with 0.8in (20mm) to 1.2in (30mm) expected to fall across many parts and as much as 1.6in (40mm) on high ground. Snow may fall over high ground in the north.
The warnings over the weather come as a major rescue effort is taking place to find a man who has not been seen since Thursday when he was fishing off cliffs near Scarborough.
Nigel Savage, 49, from Beverley, was reported missing to Humberside Police at 1am yesterday after he failed to return home following a fishing trip with his two springer spaniels to Burniston, North Yorkshire.
Land and sea searches, which began at 4am yesterday, focused on Burniston cliffs, where his dogs and rucksack were found, the shoreline and sea at Hundale Point and Cloughton Wyke, just north of Scarborough.
The severe flood warnings were in place along the coastlines of Cornwall, North Devon and Somerset as well as Plymouth Barbican, the Environment Agency said.
Flood alerts in Yorkshire include the River Nidd and tributaries to the confluence with the River Ouse and along the North Sea Coast at Bridlington.
High tides will leave coastal areas in the South West at risk of flooding and parts of south-east England, the North West and Yorkshire and Hull coast will also be affected by the wind, rain and high tides in the next few days.
In Wales and Gloucestershire, authorities are warning of the combined impact of the Severn Bore and tidal surges, with defences put up along sections of the River Severn.
In Aberystwyth, seafront halls of residence for students have been closed until late afternoon on Monday as a precaution and businesses have bolstered sandbag defences in case forecast 30ft-plus (9m) high tides this weekend coincide with powerful winds to wreak havoc similar to that seen in early January when sections of the town’s seafront were reduced to rubble.
The latest forecasts will be met with trepidation by residents on the Somerset Levels, which has seen 25 square miles (65 sq km) swamped by the worst flooding in the area for 20 years.
The Environment Agency has been running dozens of pumps 24 hours a day to drain an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of water – equivalent to 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools – from the Levels, where around 40 properties have flooded. The Army is on stand-by to help villages cut off by the floods, many of whom have been stranded since Christmas.
Police said the pumping operation on the Levels was the biggest the country has ever seen.
Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan said the civilian authorities were fully prepared for whatever the weekend might bring – with further help on standby if needed.
“Should the threat become more extreme we have contingencies in place but at this time we have the resources and plans in place to deal with the incoming weather.”
Mr Savage is described as white, 6ft, with a medium build. He is bald with facial stubble and has green eyes. Anyone who may have seen him is urged to contact Humberside Police on 101.