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Flooding in British villages stirs climate debate

An emergency services boat navigated flooded roads on the Somerset Levels in southwest England.
An emergency services boat navigated flooded roads on the Somerset Levels in southwest England.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

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THORNEY, England — As children climb into boats to get to school and scores of hoses pump floodwaters from fields day and night, one corner of southwest England is trying to reclaim its land. Other Britons watch and wonder: How much can you fight the sea?

Here on the Somerset Levels — a marshy, low-lying region dotted with farmland and villages and crisscrossed by rivers — thousands of acres have been under water for weeks.

Some villages have been cut off for a month, leaving residents who have been forced to make long detours or take boats to school, work or grocery shops frustrated and angry. Some blame government budget cuts and inept environmental bureaucracy. Others point to climate change.

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