‘Killer’ floods could wipe out UK city if mega-storm strikes during king tide

A scientist fears London could be hit by killer floods far more “terrifying” than Venice if we don’t tackle climate change.

Senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University John Grant, 52, said: “We could end up losing a major city. Flooding is going to get much worse over the next decade.”

Venice was hit by the worst flooding in more than 50 years with more than 80% of the Italian city was flooded.

Mr Grant said the Thames Barrier was built after a flood in 1953 that killed 1,800 people across Europe including 307 in London.

“But that happened before climate change,” he said.

“London could see worse. All you’d need is a mega storm at a point where there is a king tide. That terrifies me.”

He said the barrier is “one of the most awesome pieces of flood engineering in the world”.

But, he said, it was only supposed to be used for a mega high tide every one to three years and in 2014 it was operated 14 times.

On climate change, he warned: “This is not going to happen like a movie, this is going to happen like a gentle gas attack.

“This is my horror. Climate change kills you gently. This is a soft silent killer.”

The Environment Agency issued 259 alerts and warnings yesterday over flood risks.

They said people were trying to steal pumps used to move water away from flooded areas.

Around 1,200 people have been evacuated and 93 people stuck in their vehicles by flood water have been rescued.

Sheffield mayor Dan Jarvis has written to the PM calling for financial aid to be given to residents and businesses. He said 4,220 homes had been affected in South Yorkshire.

Flooding also hit St Ives in Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, the Midlands and Gloucestershire. Forty schools were forced to shut in Worcestershire.

The Met Office are now warning of more rain and sub zero conditions on Sunday and early next week.

University of Sheffield senior lecturer Liz Sharp said flooding was “one of the most severe risks in the UK” from climate change. She said: “We should expect more extreme rainfall events.”

Meanwhile, fears of Christmas floods were raised yesterday after a senior government official said frontline teams would remain on high alert through the festive season.

John Curtin, executive director of flood and coastal risk management at the Environment Agency, warned that “everywhere is super sensitive to rain” as he urged homeowners to take steps to prepare themselves.

It came as the Met Office warned we are on track for the wettest autumn on record.

Mr Curtin said that 900 homes have been flooded in the recent floods but 21,000 have been protected.

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