The whole of England and Wales was today placed under flood alert as rain continues to plague the South and tidal surges batter the coast.
Three severe flood warnings - the highest level - were still in place, covering Chiswell, nearby Preston Beach and the Lower Stour in Dorset.
Some 360 flood warnings or alerts were in place for England, Wales and Scotland - with warnings in all of England and Wales, and three Scottish regions.
The Met Office said that heavy showers, some of them combined with hail and thunder, will continue to affect parts of the South today and tomorrow.
Seven people have now died and more than 1,700 homes and businesses have been flooded in England since the beginning of the Christmas period.
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Warnings: 360 flood warnings or alerts were in place for England, Wales and Scotland - with every region of England and Wales, and three in Scotland, under a warning
Trying to make it through: A 4x4 drives down a flooded road next to the River Thames in Shepperton, Surrey
Storm: Waves ravage an already damaged Victorian shelter on the promenade in Aberystwyth. A major cleanup operation has started today in the town
No sitting outside today: Flooded gardens next to the River Thames in Shepperton, Surrey
Isolated: Flooded fields surround Odda's Chapel in Deerhurst, Gloucestershire, as heavy rain continues to batter the country
Water damage: Homes next to the flooded River Thames in Shepperton, Surrey
Verifications: Dominic Webb (right) and Stuart Williams from Lindon Lewis Marine check boats moored to flooded moorings next to the River Thames in Shepperton
The rain is falling on already-saturated ground, putting added pressure on swollen rivers - while coastal areas also battle high tides and strong winds.
Huge waves prompted the Environment Agency to sound its flood siren in Dorset last night - warning of extreme danger to people and property.
The alarm was raised after the sea breached Chiswell Beach in Portland around 10pm and spray crashed over flood defences, the coastguard said.
Police told residents, who had been on high alert, to move to an upstairs room facing away from the sea, as ‘horrendous’ sea conditions were reported.
Covered: Some 333 of the flood warnings or alerts were in place in England and Wales, with three severe flood warnings - the highest level - issued in Dorset
Forecast: The Met Office said that heavy showers, some of them combined with hail and thunder, will continue to affect parts of the South today and tomorrow
Destruction: A general view of the damaged promenade in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. A major cleanup operation has started today in the Wales town
Capturing the situation: A resident takes a photograph of flood water which has continued to rise in Langport, Somerset
Protection: Sandbags put around properties in Perranporth, south-west of Newquay, Cornwall, as Britain is battered by strong wides and high tides
Splash: Godrevy Lighthouse is battered by huge waves off the Cornish coast. 'Horrendous' sea conditions were reported in Dorset last night
'Do not enter': Schooners restaurant in St Agnes, Cornwall, has been forced to close after strong waves washed
away the balcony
away the balcony
'Good parking for boats': Media consultant Sybil Ruscoe posted a picture on Twitter of a flooded car park at North Sands in Salcolmbe, Devon
Other victims: Britain's awful weather today proved too much for a herd of water buffalo - who had to be evacuated from their flooded field in Eastbourne, Sussex
Some 300 properties have flooded in England since the New Year. And around 140 properties have been flooded in Wales.
High winds over Christmas also left 250,000 homes without power, with some families waiting days for the electricity to be restored.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the Government was working closely with councils and insurers to ensure people could quickly get help. Some areas were now focused on recovery after storms and flooding over Christmas and New Year, while others remained at significant risk, he added.
Mr Paterson admitted to the Commons that a few energy network companies were too slow at restoring power to thousands of homes affected by the storms and floods over Christmas.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey will be meeting the regulator Ofgem and the Distribution Network Operators to see how improvements can be made.
Mr Paterson also said the response from some agencies in helping people whose homes had been affected by the severe weather had been ‘patchy’ and was ‘well worth investigating’.
But he praised the response of most of those involved in dealing with the storms.
He told MPs: ‘Flood management is a real priority for this Government. It has a vital role to play in protecting people and property from the damage caused by flooding and in delivering economic growth.’
But environmentalists challenged the Government's claim that it was spending more than ever on flood defences.
Friends of the Earth said analysis of Defra figures showed that some £2.32 billion was being spent over the current spending review period, slightly lower than the £2.36 billion spent in the period 2007-2011.
Under attack: The Cove House Inn at Chesil Beach in Portland, Dorset, which was ravaged by 15ft waves during the latest winter storm to hit the UK
Response: Workers try to clear stones thrown over the road by the sea at Newgale, Pembrokeshire, after it was battered by the wind and high tides
Carrying on: A woman (left) and builders (right) wade through the high flood waters at Mill Meadow in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire
No cod and chips today: Sandbags put around the Dolphin Café take-away in Perranporth, Cornwall, to offer protection from potential flooding
Getting on with the day: A man carries his shopping over debris on Aberystwyth promenade after the worst storms to affect the Welsh coastline in 15 years
No access: Flooded fields with the cut off village of Muchelney, Somerset, in the background. Flood waters have continued to rise as residents remain trapped
Damaged: Flooded houses are seen yesterday in the village of Muchelney, near Langport in Somerset, which has been cut off by flooding
And with the cost of inflation, the figure was a drop in real terms, the environmental group claimed
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: ‘Worse still, the coalition's chronic under-investment in flood defences is completely failing to keep pace with climate change, which is increasing flood risk - as the Government's climate envoy Sir David King recently pointed out.
‘Protecting British households from the destructive impacts of climate change is essential - the Prime Minister must intervene to ensure flood defence spending rises to meet the challenge.’
Mr Paterson's statement on the floods over the holiday period came as the misery continued for some communities.
Flooding in the Somerset Levels has left villages cut off, roads and buildings have been damaged, and waves of up to 27ft have been recorded at Land's End, the most southern tip of the UK.
In Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, seafront properties along the promenade were again evacuated to a rest centre at a local school.
Meanwhile, searches are continuing in south Devon for missing 18-year-old university student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather - with more than 100 people volunteering to look for him.
Devon and Cornwall Police said a 20-mile stretch of coastline - 10 miles either side of the 18-year-old's home at Newton Ferrers - has been extensively searched as well as inland areas with the help of a range of groups and emergency services.
Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away as dozens put their lives at risk by going to coastal areas to watch as the storm brought waves of up to 40ft high crashing on to land.
Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to the man who died after being washed out to sea in Cornwall on New Year's Day.
Making it through: Three young women ride horses yesterday through flood water on the road leading to the village of Muchelney which has been cut off by flooding
Not moving: A man tries start a Mercedes car left stricken in flood water on the road leading to the village of Muchelney yesterday which has been cut off by flooding
Stand back: Waves crash onto the promenade between Fleetwood and Blackpool yesterday as high tides and huge waves hit the west coast of Britain
Pledge: Environment Secretary Owen Paterson (left) said the Government was working closely with councils and insurers to ensure people could quickly get help. Energy Secretary Ed Davey (right) will be meeting the regulator Ofgem and the Distribution Network Operators to see how improvements can be made
Harry Swordy, 27, from Guildford, Surrey, had gone for a paddle with friends at Loe Bar beach after celebrating the new year but was ‘taken out of knee-deep water by a huge wave’
Friends Tom and Lou Luddington wrote a blog post in tribute to Mr Swordy. They said: ‘He was with his sister and friends, and celebrating the beginning of a new year at the beach.
‘Some of the others were also taken by the wave, but thankfully managed to get ashore. Harry was such an amazing character, so full of life, warmth and plans for the future. He will be so missed.
‘Harry, amongst other talents, was a professional story-teller. His stories were full of beauty, wonder and they were clever and moving.’
Friends have also begun a #StormHarry appeal on Twitter for the UK's ongoing bad weather to be named after him.
‘We are campaigning that the storm, named by the US media as Hercules, be re-named Storm Harry in his memory,’ Mr and Mrs Luddington said.
‘It feels right that a legend begin about wonderful Harry that he danced up the biggest storm ever, barefoot in the sea.’
People have been warned to keep away from cliffs in Hastings, East Sussex, after excessive rainfall, strong winds and high tides lead to a massive rock fall.
The cliff face at Rock a Nore, which forms part of the Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve, is susceptible to landslides but the fall on January 3 means the area is dangerous in the current weather conditions, Hastings Borough Council said.
Councillor Emily Westley said: ‘We already advise the public not to enter the area with warning and information signs and a fixed barrier to restrict access, but must reiterate the current dangers.
‘Visual inspections are carried out daily of cliffs as part of the beach inspector's checks and this includes ensuring all signage and barriers are in place.
‘In addition, we also visually inspect and photograph this area of cliff as part of our quarterly inspection of coast defence assets.’
HUGE STACK OF ROCK DATING BACK 150 MILLION YEARS IS DESTROYED AFTER POUNDING BY FEROCIOUS WAVES
More than 220,000 properties were protected over the Christmas period and another 800,000 were protected during the coastal flooding in early December, Mr Paterson told the Commons.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning - the lowest of its three levels - for ‘heavy showers, some of them combined with hail and thunder’ until tomorrow morning across the South East, South West and East of England.
Forecasters are predicting rainfall of between 0.6in (15mm) and 1in (25mm) but are warning of as much as 1.6in (40mm) in some areas.
Dorset Police urged residents in Chiswell to be prepared for flooding and to listen out for the warning siren.
‘The siren will be sounded should the sea breach Chiswell beach - as it did last night,’ a force spokeswoman said.
Portland Beach Road from Weymouth to Portland remains open but will close should the conditions make it unsafe and Preston Beach Road in Weymouth remains closed.
‘This is a multi-agency operation and follows monitoring of sea levels, tides and waves over the last 24-hour period, the weather forecast indicating further severe weather together with predicted high tides.’
At Palmer's Brewery in nearby Bridport, the Old Brewery building was evacuated when scaffolding was struck by lightning for the second time in 12 months.
‘There was a huge bang and all our alarms went off,’ a brewery spokesman said.
‘We evacuated the building and everyone trooped outside into the pouring rain. Fortunately there was no damage and we were able to return swiftly to brewing today's batch of Copper Ale. All back to usual now and the sun has come out.’
Other parts of the UK continued to suffer from gale-force winds, heavy rain overnight and strong waves. The Thames Barrier in London will close for the 11th successive tide today. According to the EA it has only closed operationally 135 times since being built in the 1980s.
In Cornwall, waves at Portreath washed away a 100-year-old stone hut on the breakwater and at Porthcothan Bay, between Newquay and Padstow, a huge rock has completely collapsed under the sheer force of huge waves.
In Wales, the coast was once again battered by strong winds and high tides but forecasters say the worst of the storms is over for now.
All buildings along Aberystwyth promenade were evacuated last night as it was hit by an ‘exceptional’ wave swell. But hundreds of Aberystwyth University students forced out of their seafront accommodation have now been allowed to return.
Now, while the worst of the bad weather looks to have come and gone, the clean-up operation along Wales' battered coastline continues. In Aberystwyth, surveyors will be inspecting the town's promenade - which suffered severe damage with holes forming in the sea wall.
And in Pembrokeshire, council workers have begun clearing the main road that runs alongside the beach in Newgale, after tonnes of pebbles were washed ashore.
The Welsh Government has ordered a review of Wales' coastal defences. Environment minister Alun Davies visited Aberystwyth last Friday to meet with council bosses and local people to discuss the issue.
Across the rail network, there was continuing disruption to services due to the weather. Rail services between Lincoln Central and Peterborough have been affected because of emergency engineering work taking place to prevent a landslip.
There were also delays on First Great Western services because of signalling problems between Truro and Falmouth Docks following a lighting strike at the docks.
Flooding between Radley and Oxford was causing delays to trains between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, which was disrupting CrossCountry and First Great Western services.
Several services across the Arriva Train Wales network were continuing to be disrupted due to the damage caused by the recent high winds and flooding. Irish Ferries has also cancelled its Swift sailings to and from Dublin. However the firm said passengers would be accommodated on other services.
Meanwhile, a steel 'totem' on the Twin Sails Bridge in Poole, Dorset - which only opened in April 2012 - was today blown loose by the strong winds.
The 23ft curved stainless steel structure - which is one of four used to house the safety barrier, warning lights and operating systems - was being held in place by a crane while engineers worked to re-attach it.
THREE FOOT COD WEIGHING 12LBS WASHED ONTO SEASIDE GOLF COURSE' THIRD GREEN BY MASSIVE WAVES
Seven deaths since storms began to batter Britain before Christmas
Seven people have died since December 23 during the storms that have battered the UK, according to the Government. They are:
Death: Harry Swordy, 27, from Surrey, was swept to his death in Cornwall
- December 23: Simon Martindale, 48, died after being swept away in the River Rothay in Ambleside, Cumbria. Mr Martindale, from Lancaster, had been spotted in the water by eyewitnesses with a dog, which managed to escape. Police were treating his death as an accident.
- December 24: Nick Mutton, a primary school teacher, died trying to save his dog from a swollen river in Newton Abbot, Devon. The father-of-two slipped into the River Lemon and died after being swept away. Mr Mutton had been visiting Asda in Newton Abbot with his family when his dog ventured into the river near to the store at around 11.15am on December 24.
- December 24: Patrick Mahon, 42, of Wellington, Shropshire, was found dead in a stream on Horton Lane at around 9am on Christmas Eve. West Mercia Police do not believe Mr Mahon's death to be suspicious. His death is not thought to be directly related to the floods, according to Defra.
- December 31: A 42-year-old woman died after getting swept to sea at Croyde Bay, north Devon, on the morning of New Year's Eve. The woman, who has not been named, was from Bristol and had been holidaying in the area. She was later rescued from the sea and taken to hospital but declared dead.
Christmas Eve: Patrick Mahon, 42, from Shropshire, was found dead in a stream
- January 4: A 47-year-old man died when his mobility scooter fell into the River Thames at Osney Lock, Oxford from a flooded pathway. Following the man's death Thames Valley Police warned about the dangers of using footpaths near rivers which are badly flooded.
In addition to the seven identified by the Government, two other people died on the weekend before Christmas. They were:
- December 21, 2013: Joanna Brown, 36, ran into the sea on Brighton Beach shortly after 2am. Her body was discovered on the beach at Cuckmere Haven on December 28. 'Her reason for running into the water is still not clear, but her death is not being treated as suspicious and the Brighton and Hove Coroner's officer is continuing inquiries,' said a Sussex Police spokesman.
- December 22: Michael Gregson, 63, from Truro died in multi-car pile-up on the A30 near Bodmin, Cornwall. Police said weather had been appalling. Sergeant Olly Tayler, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: 'Both carriageways were closed due to the serious nature of the collision and the horrendous weather conditions. The investigation into what caused the collision continues but one line of inquiry is that there was an unexpected exceptional weather event that happened at the time of the collisions in the form of a hailstorm.'