Thousands of people are being evacuated after “unprecedented” levels of rain have caused rivers to burst their banks and left homes under water in York, Leeds and Manchester.
The Government has vowed to review flood defences as the Army was mobilised this morning to help emergency services carry out mass evacuations.
David Cameron has this morning chaired a conference call of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee as ministers worked to tackle the problem.
He said: “I’ve just chaired a Cobra meeting on the unprecedented flooding. Huge thanks to the emergency services and military for doing so much.
“Also my sympathy for those affected at this time of year. More troops are being deployed as part of a plan to do whatever is needed.”
Mr Cameron said: “What has happened - the level of the rivers, plus the level of rainfall has created an unprecedented effect and so some very serious flooding. The Cobra call has been important because we’ve decided to deploy more military resources, more military personnel, to help.
“But let me say the emergency services have done a fantastic job and continue to do so, and they deserve the whole nation’s thanks. But of course, at this time of year, we all feel huge sympathy for those who have been flooded and have had to leave their homes.”
Details of further help from the military will become clear later today, Mr Cameron said.
He added: “As some areas of the country move from the emergency into the recovery phase, we’ll also make sure that the help we have given to Cumbria will be available to other parts of the country.”
Mr Cameron said that with the prevalence of such extreme weather events on the rise, investment in flood defences would continue.
He said: “Whenever these things happen, you should look at what you’ve spent, look at what you’ve built, look at what you’re planning to spend, look at what you’re planning to build, and ask whether it’s in the right places, whether it’s enough, whether we’re doing everything we can to try and help.
“The flood barriers have made a difference - both the permanent ones and the temporary ones - but it’s clear in some cases they’ve been over-topped, they’ve been overrun, and so of course we should look again at whether there’s more we should do.”