Feb 4 2014
The Prince of Wales has said the "tragedy" on the flood-hit Somerset Levels is that "nothing happened for so long".
Prince Charles made the remarks as he met local residents, farmers and emergency services personnel who have been affected.
He pledged a £50,000 donation to support flood victims, with The Duke of Westminster matching the funding with an extra £50,000.
Charles was recorded making the comments during a reception of 80 people in Stoke St Gregory by ITV News.
"There's nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something," the prince said. "The tragedy is that nothing happened for so long."
The £50,000 funding will come from The Prince's Countryside Fund, which Charles is patron of.
Charles braved heavy winds, flooded roads and rain to attend the 45-minute-long reception, providing a "much-needed boost" to the local community.
Dozens of schoolchildren, residents and campaigners greeted him as he arrived at the Williams Hall in the small Somerset village, near Taunton.
Communities from local areas including Muchelney, Thorney and other isolated hamlets have been cut off by the waters, with major roads closed.
The Somerset Levels suffered "once in 100 years" flooding in 2012, but has endured even worse flooding this year.
More than 128,000 acres have been deluged, at a huge cost to local farmers.
Around 40 homes are also under water and approximately 200 houses are cut off. In total, around 350 people are affected.
Speaking after the reception, Charles Hignett, chairman of the Country Landowners and Business Association's Somerset Branch, said farmers on the Levels appreciated the royal support.
"It is wonderful to have his support," Mr Hignett said. "He has a great interest in farming and rural communities and for him to come and visit us is something we are very grateful for.
"Farming businesses in this area have been affected a great deal by the flooding.
"I think the Prince of Wales was listening, he was in a listening mode. I am quite sure he understands the issues very well."
Father-of-two Neilsen Gillard, 44, attended the reception with father David Gillard, 69, a father-of-four.
The Gillard family have been arable and sheep farming their 800 acres in flood-hit Burrowbridge for the past 130 years.
Neilsen Gillard said: "Prince Charles asked some questions about were we affected by the flooding where we were. We told him about the river and showed him pictures of it.
"At the moment, we have 350 acres under at least two feet of water. There are fields we haven't been able to get to.
"It has affected us very badly. We are still picking up the pieces from the flooding in July 2012.
"That was supposed to be a once in 100 years event, well we are now three years on and it is even worse.
"Prince Charles said he hoped that things would be moving forward. He said he hoped we could get some help.
"He didn't say that he would be speaking to anybody in Government but he seemed to show some empathy, it was nice for him to care."
David Gillard added: "We can't cope with this anymore. A large area of land around us will be unfarmable unless we can do something.
"It is damaging, and the damage it is causing is more than we can possibly re-compensate."
There is widespread anger in the area at what many residents feel has been a slow response from the authorities to the flooding, which has seen many people cut off for weeks.
During a visit last week, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was criticised by furious locals who complained that they were living in "third world" conditions - with "overflowing" septic tanks and water in their homes.
Environment Agency boss Lord Smith has also come under fire from some in the area who believe that river dredging by the agency could have reduced the scale of the flooding.
During today's visit the prince went to a pontoon at Huish Episcopi to catch a boat, operated by the police, which is ferrying residents to the villages of Muchelney and Thorney, which have been cut off by the floods.
Charles was escorted to Muchelney by Mike Curtis, a local farmer, whose home had been flooded for the second time in 12 months.
The prince was greeted by dozens of residents when he arrived in the village.
After taking time to speak to local people, Charles travelled to Mr Curtis's farm on a trailer with a garden bench attached, which was decorated with flowers. The heir to the throne sat on the bench in his wellington boots as the trailer was pulled through the flood waters by a tractor.
At Thorney Moor Farm the prince met Mr Curtis's wife Jenny and their two children, Rebecca, aged three, and one-year-old Tabitha.
The prince high-fived Rebecca before being taken on a tour of the farm by Mr and Mrs Curtis.
Charles was shown the cattle shed full of cows before going inside the Curtis' flood-damaged home and seeing for himself the aftermath of the floods.
Later David Cameron's official spokesman was asked to respond to the Prince's comments: "The Prime Minister has repeatedly said, including I think in his article in the regional media over the weekend, that the situation that a number of communities in the Somerset area find themselves in is unacceptable.
"That's why the Government is working so closely with the Environment Agency, the local authority and other agencies to do as much as we can to help those communities.
"I think the local communities will very much have welcomed the Prince of Wales's visit to their area.
"In terms of relief that the Government is working with others to provide, as the Prime Minister has said he rules nothing out.
"The Prime Minister has said that the situation people very sadly have found themselves in is a desperate one, it's an unacceptable one, and that's why it's so important that we do everything that we can to help them."