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Thousands still without power after storms

THOUSANDS of households are facing a second day without power after storms cut off heating and electricity to around 50,000 homes in the south of England, forcing many families to cancel Christmas plans.

MESS: A fire engine makes its way through flooding in Surrey.
MESS: A fire engine makes its way through flooding in Surrey.

The Energy Networks ­Association, the body in charge of the UK's gas and electricity infrastructure, said homes which had not been reconnected yesterday should be reconnected at some point today.

Power company UK Power Networks offered to pay for Christmas meals in pubs, hotels or restaurants for people whose plans for a turkey dinner had been shattered when their power was cut off.

Hundreds more families were forced to flee their homes as torrential rain led a number of rivers in England and Wales to burst their banks on Christmas Eve.

Gary Button, manager of the Old Mill Hotel in Batheaston near Bath, said he had to cancel dozens of Christmas dinners after the River Avon flooded the property.

Firefighters broke their strike in parts of England because of the storms, with 150 properties flooded in Surrey and Kent.

The Coastguard joined Kent Fire and Rescue Service to rescue people from a caravan park in Yalding after rising waters from the River Medway cut them off.

By 8pm the water was chest-deep and a helicopter was brought in as a precaution while the last 21 people were led to safety.

In Surrey, residents were evacuated from their homes in Dorking, Leatherhead and Guildford, while more evacuations occurred in Tonbridge, Kent.

Some 40 properties were ­evacuated in Godalming because of concerns over the height of the River Wey, Surrey Police said, and a rest centre was set up for residents.

It came after storms were blamed for a series of fatal accidents in the run up to Christmas.

On December 23, a 48-year-old man from Lancaster who was walking his dog along the River Rothay in Cumbria was swept away by the fast-moving water.

A woman also died in a river in Gwynedd, North Wales.

Another woman died and a man was seriously hurt in a car crash which happened in "difficult weather conditions", West Midlands Ambulance Service said. The woman died in the crash near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, which happened just after 9.30pm on Monday.

A man died in a multiple-vehicle crash near Bodmin in ­Cornwall on Sunday night.

Travellers trying to get home on Christmas Eve fought ­treacherous conditions on the roads and suffered major delays as the rail network was brought to its knees in much of the country.

There was chaos at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex after a power cut at the North Terminal led to cancellations and delays, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

EasyJet said it would be ­operating a limited number of flights from Gatwick Airport today to replace ones that should have operated yesterday.

The airline was unable to ­schedule any further flights for Christmas Day because of limited capacity at airports and crew availability.

Kirk Waite, a forecaster at the Met Office, said a storm due to hit the UK tomorrow is not expected to be as severe as the weather before Christmas.

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