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UK flood victims line up for water

  • Story Highlights
  • 140,000 homes in Gloucestershire could be without water for next fortnight
  • Parts of Oxford saved from rising flood waters, Cambridgeshire escapes flooding
  • Bottled water handed out in Gloucestershire
  • England has had nearly two-and-a-half times its normal rainfall this month
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(CNN) -- Water levels in flooded central and western England are expected to remain high for the next 24 hours and about 140,000 homes in Gloucestershire could be without water for the next fortnight.

The flooding -- the worst to hit western England in 60 years -- has affected power stations and water treatment plants in the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.

Residents in flooded regions received some good news after parts of Oxford were saved from rising flood waters, and fears that Cambridgeshire would be the latest county to be badly hit by floods subsided Wednesday.

Oxfordshire Council said that 90 people had been evacuated from their homes early Wednesday. Thames Valley Police said about 250 homes had been contacted and residents warned that they might wish to move to higher ground.

The Environment Agency said many homes in the north of Oxford had been saved from flooding by the Kidlington Flood Defence Scheme, Britain's Press Association reported.

In Oxford, parts of the city remained under high levels of water.

In Cambridgeshire, hundreds of homes along the River Ouse were in danger as high tides caused the river to burst its banks in a number of places in the early hours of Wednesday.

Residents had been issued with sandbags in readiness, but police said they had received no reports of property being damaged as a result of flooding, PA said.

The river spilled over into parks and fields and forced the closure of some minor roads.

In Gloucestershire, long queues snaked around supermarket car parks on Wednesday as people queued patiently for water rations. It is estimated that 350,000 people are affected by having their fresh water supply cut off. See the seven-day weather forecast for Gloucester

Three million liters of bottled water were handed out in the worst-affected areas of Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Cheltenham.

Above-normal water levels in the two major rivers -- the Thames and the Severn -- are slowly falling and British officials say the rain -- which is due to arrive in the area Wednesday -- is not likely to cause further flooding. (Video Watch how the floods have engulfed large parts of western England »)

There are fears that the River Severn, which flows through the historic city of Gloucester, could overtop its banks. The river is already nearly 15 feet above its normal level for this time of year. In the town of Evesham, the River Severn is more than twice its normal width. Photo See images of the flooding's devastation »

More than 40,000 customers lost power on Monday when British officials took the Castlemeads substation off-line after it was flooded. A British power representative said Tuesday that more than half of those customers were put on a back-up supply while engineers worked overnight to restore power to the remaining customers.

Water damage to the Castlemeads substation is still being repaired, he said.

The town of Tewkesbury is also flooded -- video from the area showed dozens of cars and homes under several feet of water. Rescue vehicles were spotted on Tuesday driving through several inches of floodwater to reach residents.

So far this month England has had nearly two-and-a-half times its normal rainfall.

Hundreds of people in the worst affected areas were plucked to safety by helicopters of the Royal Air Force and boats. Rescuers transporting the elderly and the sick to safety using inflatable boats was a common site.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Gloucester on Monday and promised to mobilize resources from across the country. He also announced increased funding for flood and coastal defenses across the country.

"Like every advanced industrialized country, we are coming to terms with the issues surrounding climate change," he said. The prime minister described the flooding as unprecedented.

He pledged $1.6 billion in flood relief.

The government has been criticized over the quality of flood defenses and for a slow response to the crisis.

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The wet weather for much of June and July across England and Wales has also affected crops. Farmers are predicting low yields and higher prices -- with several crops due to be harvested in the next month.

Insurance companies are expecting claims worth hundreds of millions of dollars because of flood damage. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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