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British royals join flood relief efforts as new storm approaches

LONDON — Princes William and Harry on Friday joined their army colleagues in building flood defences, as fresh storms prepared to batter flood-weary Britain.

The brothers were spotted helping residents of the badly affected town of Datchet, near London, protect their properties with sandbags and had reportedly been their since 6 a.m. (0600 GMT).

"They wanted to show their support for the flood victims and have joined the armed forces relief effort," said a royal spokesman.

Britain has been suffering its wettest winter in years, with the most rainfall in January since 1776. Thousands of homes in southern England have been flooded, with parts of Somerset under water for more than a month.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II was also helping the relief efforts by providing farmers in Somerset with feed and bedding from the royal farms at Windsor.

The Met Office warned that the weather was preparing a fresh "multi-pronged attack", with gusts of wind of up to 130 kilometres per hour in south-west England and up to 40 millimetres of rainfall in just six hours.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to do "whatever it takes" to help communities affected by the extreme weather and repeated his promised that "money is no object" in the relief effort.

"Obviously, we are facing a very difficult time because we have got the wettest start to the year for 250 years and these are extraordinary weather events, but we are fighting on every front to help people," he told ITV television.

"We have deployed the military, we have got thousands of sandbags being put around people's houses, over 300,000 people had their electricity reconnected last night," he continued.

Around 16,000 households in southern England remained without power, after storms earlier in the week felled trees and damaged infrastructure.

The Environment Agency issued 17 severe flood warnings, meaning a threat to life, mostly in Surrey and Berkshire, where the River Thames has burst its banks.

Hundreds of other flood warnings and alerts were in place across the country.
 

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