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Winter woes for storm-hit Europe

Friday, February 07, 2014 - 02:29

Feb.07 - As some of the worst storms in decades continue to batter the continent, countries across Europe are on high alert with train lines damaged and scores of homes hit by flooding. Ciara Sutton asks if the bad weather will dampen the region’s fragile recovery.

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A train line literally suspended. This is Dawlish in the south west of England, where high seas have washed away the sea wall. It's the latest victim of the extreme weather that's been battering the coast for weeks, and it's expected to take at least six weeks to repair. Storms in neighbouring Cornwall have done an estimated 14 million pounds in damage. And business leaders say the closure of the train line will cost the region millions of pounds every day it's out of use. Flooding in Somerset has forced scores of people out of their homes and left others without power. The water-pumping operation in the area is costing a reported 100,000 pounds a week as they prepare to start dredging rivers. The government has pledged an extra 100 million pounds towards damage and future maintenance in Somerset. British finance minister, George Osborne. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH CHANCELLOR, GEORGE OSBORNE, SAYING: "We've committed to support the councils whose budgets have been stretched by this. We've deployed national support through things like our armed services, and we're committing in the future, to billions of pounds of investment in our flood defenses in making sure our country's better prepared to deal with the exceptional weather we've had." Despite the unrelenting winter, Alan Higgins from Coutts is not concerned that the financial impacts will be significant. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALAN HIGGINS, COUTTS, SAYING: "Of course nobody wants to go shopping in this weather, so the retail sector could be under pressure. But it's a marginal impact in terms of GDP, so I wouldn't overplay it." It's not just the UK on high alert. French and Spanish coasts have also been sharing the misery. And heavy snow fall has been blanketing Slovenia, and parts of Serbia and Croatia, cutting power to thousands of homes. Over in the US, the winter siege is beginning to take its toll. Richard Hunter from Hargreaves Lansdown. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HEAD OF EQUITIES AT HARGREAVES LANSDOWN SAYING: "US economists are currently grappling with how much weakness in the economic data, when you think about the manufacturing figures the other day, is simply weather related, how much of it is seasonal, and whether the predicted snap is going to come back with a vengeance." With the adverse weather showing little sign of reprieve, governments will be counting the cost of the damage. And with more storms brewing in the Atlantic, those costs are expected to rise.

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Winter woes for storm-hit Europe

Friday, February 07, 2014 - 02:29