David Cameron will continue to tour flood-hit areas of the country today in an effort to demonstrate that he has a grip on the crisis with more bad weather set to come.
Ministers insisted that the authorities were doing "everything possible" and the military was on standby as the country braced for further heavy rain and gale force winds.
Severe flood warnings, where there is a danger to life, were in place along stretches of the Thames west of London and on the Somerset Levels.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said special efforts were being made to protect vital infrastructure from the floods in order to minimise disruption.
But officials have predicted hundreds more homes will be flooded over the coming days and restoring the country's battered rail network could take months.
Mr Pickles chaired the latest meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee yesterday as the Prime Minister visited south-west England.
The Communities Secretary said: "We are doing everything possible to protect people's homes and communities. In addition, strategic sites such as water and electrical plants are being given special attention to ensure that homes are not left without vital resources.
"Local authorities are being given immediate practical support from government. This includes centralising the control of sandbags, ordering additional temporary flood defences and ensuring that existing defences are being shared and deployed where necessary.
"Additionally, full military support remains on standby across the South."
He warned: "Sadly, the worst of the bad weather is not over. But we are working tirelessly to deal with the situation on the ground and to prepare and protect vulnerable areas"
Efforts to deal with the flooding have been overshadowed by a bitter clash between ministers and the Environment Agency, after Mr Pickles issued a barbed apology for relying on its advice.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson - who was leading the response until being forced to undergo an eye operation - is said to have complained to Downing Street over his Tory colleague's intervention.
Mr Pickles sought to make light of a supposed rift, describing Mr Paterson as his "brother from a different mother" after being summoned to the Commons to respond to an urgent question.
The Prime Minister, on a visit to Chesil Beach yesterday, praised the work of the Environment Agency but gave only limited support to its under-fire chairman Lord Smith, saying "this isn't the time for a change in personnel, this is the time for getting on, everyone has to get on with the job they are doing".
He added: "There will be time later on for talking about such things."
The Cabinet meeting due to take place today has been postponed to allow the Prime Minister to continue visiting flooded regions.
Lord Smith said the floods were the result of the "most extreme weather ... that we have ever seen".
He told BBC2's Newsnight: "This is extreme natural forces having a go at us and we need to find the best possible ways of defending ourselves against them."
Lord Smith acknowledged mistakes had been made, but blamed the Treasury's spending rules and a lack of co-operation from councils for the problems dredging the rivers Tone and Parrett on the Somerset Levels.
"We've all made mistakes, everyone has made mistakes," he said.
"There are things like last year, on the Somerset Levels, when we put £400,000 on the table to start some real dredging on the Tone and the Parrett. That was the maximum we were allowed to spend by the Treasury rules that bind us.
"What we didn't do and we should probably have done was to really twist arms of the other players, the district councils, the county council, the drainage boards to come to the table with other contributions in order to enable us to do that ... It was something that we all should have worked more actively on.
The Met Office's Sarah Davies told a briefing that strong winds forecast for the middle of the week could add to the problems facing the country.
Some 20-40mm (0.75-1.5 inches) of rain is expected by Friday night across many southern and western areas.
But some regions, including the already flood-hit south west of England, south Wales, western Scotland and Northern Ireland could have up to 70mm (2.75 inches).
A storm due to hit tomorrow could fell trees and cause transport and power disruption, Ms Davies warned, with winds in the south west potentially reaching 80mph.