The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted.
As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis.
He said Royal Engineers were now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of "serious" to damage the UK's flood defence infrastructure.
But Mr Hammond conceded that in future the Government would involve the military earlier in the process, and be more "aggressive" in urging local authorities to use troops.
Swathes of the UK remain on high alert as people battle to protect their homes and communities from the floodwaters, which are still expected to rise in places despite the break in the storms.
The Environment Agency (EA) has 16 severe flood warnings in place for the South West and the Thames Valley, with almost 150 flood warnings and 230 flood alerts.
Two people died on Friday - James Swinstead, an elderly passenger on a cruise ship in the English Channel, and minicab driver Julie Sillitoe, 49, whose car was hit by falling masonry in central London.
A 20-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn baby, from Tredegar, South Wales, also died in a crash on the A465 between Brynmawr and Garnlydan.
A firefighter died of an apparent heart attack while on duty in a flood-hit area last night, but it is unclear whether there was any link to the storms.
Mr Hammond said more than 3,000 troops were currently deployed to help and 5,000 more were available if needed.
"We've agreed with the Environment Agency that we will use Royal Engineers to do a very rapid inspection of all the nation's flood defences," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. "So we're going to try and do in five weeks what would be about a two-year programme of inspection, just to assess the level of damage...
"This series of weather events over the past two months has caused some quite serious damage to our flood defences."
Mr Hammond said the Government had been delivering a "proper response" to the crisis, but said in future it was likely to use troops earlier.
"We're dealing with an extraordinary set of weather events. It's taken some time to mobilise the resources that are necessary to respond," he said.
"We offered troops quite a long while ago to civil authorities who wanted them. What we've done over the last 10 days is push them a bit more aggressively at those civil authorities.
"Putting military liaison officers into the gold commands so that they are embedded in the system has been a major step forward and I think probably we will want to make sure in future that we do that at a very early stage in any emerging problem.
Mr Hammond indicated that ministers were planning to spend more on flood defences over the next spending period than over the current one.
"We're spending more in this four-year period than we did in the previous four-year period. "We'll spend more again in the next four-year period," he said.
"But of course there has to be a proper balance of costs and benefits drawn.
"Further targeted investment will mean that we become more and more resilient as events like this unfortunately probably will become more and more common."
Almost one million homes have been without power after downpours and high winds during the last week.
The Energy Networks Association said fewer than 16,000 homes remain without electricity after engineers restored power to 15,000 customers overnight, and more than 600,000 have been reconnected since the storms on Friday.
The severe storms have taken a major human toll in recent days.
Mother-of-three Mrs Sillitoe was killed close to Holborn Underground station after large chunks of masonry fell on to her silver Skoda Octavia on Friday night.
The minicab driver's passengers, a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, are being treated in hospital.
Mr Swinstead, 85, also died on Friday after the 22,000-tonne Marco Polo cruise ship was hit by a freak wave in the English Channel.
An injured woman in her 70s was also airlifted off the vessel, while 14 other people suffered minor injuries and were treated on board.
Emergency services and the Army rescued 32 people from the Marine Restaurant in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, at 10pm on Friday, evacuating them in an Army vehicle. Hampshire Police said there were no serious injuries.
A 20ft deep sinkhole also appeared yesterday morning under a quiet cul-de-sac in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
The people living in 17 homes close to the site in Oatridge Gardens were evacuated, as the hole, measuring approximately 35ft wide, was investigated.
Carla Rance, 35, who lives yards from the sinkhole with her husband Ross, 30, and their three children, told the Sun on Sunday they had experienced problems for weeks.
She said: "I knew something was wrong. There has been subsidence and my porch collapsed.
"There has been a lot of movement and I have not felt safe in the house but when I reported it, I was told it was all fine. It is extremely upsetting."
Meanwhile, a poll by ComRes for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror found that just 59% of people thought the Government was "beginning to get a grip" on the flooding.
Some 48% said the storms had made them more convinced that climate change was happening, compared to 30% who said their views had not changed.
An Opinium poll for the Observer found 51% thought Mr Cameron had responded badly to the floods.
Some 51% of those questioned said they believed issues around climate change and global warming caused the floods while 24% did not take that view, and 20% were neutral.