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British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, talks with emergency service workers during a visit to Goodings Farm in Fordgate, Somerset, on Feb. 7. / Tim Ireland, AFP/Getty Images

LONDON - The British government is throwing everything, including itself, but the kitchen sink at an unprecedented flooding crisis.

And for everything read not sandbags, plastic sea walls and Royal Marines commandos - although there is that too - but Prince Charles, Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband. There is also the distinguished lord who chairs the Environment Agency and an outspoken communities secretary with the last name of Pickles. And Tuesday, even Defense Secretary Philip Hammond joined the melee.

In fact, the record flow of water pummeling low-lying villages and towns up and down the British Isles is being matched by a game of frenzied, sleeves-rolled-up politicking that has seen the most senior members of the British government and political establishment hurriedly getting in boats, tractors and choppers to view the worst-hit areas, console local residents and point fingers - at each other.

Yet it is a public relations game that most British politicians appear to be losing, and Hammond drew an especially short stick on Tuesday.

"What will it take for you to understand?" Su Burrows, a clearly agitated volunteer, asked Hammond live on Sky News television as he toured the village of Wraysbury in Berkshire. "We are seriously in need of help. We need the army here. We said that yesterday but no one is taking us seriously."

An emotional Burrows said that days into efforts to stem the worst of the flooding in Wraysbury she had not seen a single environment agency worker helping to resolve the situation. "There are all in the office," she said.

"There is nobody coordinating efforts here apart from us," Burrows said. "We are directing people where they need to go, not the police, we are directing the police. We are directing the parking officers of the royal borough where they need to go to manage traffic. We are telling them where they need to close the roads. We have got rotas at the end of every single road managing traffic telling them where they can and cannot go. Why are the military not doing this, why is the Environment Agency not doing this?"

Hammond said that it was the "civil authorities who are in charge" and that he couldn't just "impose" the military. As the interview ended, he did say that he would try to connect the dots on some promised sandbags.

On Sunday, the communities secretary Eric Pickles said of the civilian-run Environment Agency: "We thought we were dealing with experts." Lord Chris Smith of the Environment Agency responded to that Monday, saying that the agency knew "100 times more" than politicians on the flooding issue.

Also addressing reporters on a visit to Wraysbury on Tuesday, Labor's Miliband said that "when government (leaders) start pointing the finger of blame at each other and government (agencies) it gets you nowhere." He said that he knows this as a result of his experience as a cabinet member under the last Labor government.

In Surrey town of Chertsey, meanwhile, the controversial United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called on his party's supporters to back a petition in the Daily Mail newspaper that would see some of Britain's foreign aid budget diverted to flood relief.

"It is just plain common sense for a government to prioritize its own citizens when they are in need and in peril," he said, adding that "a large majority of the British public can see that. So why can't the political establishment?" Farage said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Floods pummel U.K. while politicians pummel themselves

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