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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Chaos as heavy rain brings floods
Man canoes down street in South Croydon. Pic: James Murray
Flooding has affected Maidenhead in Berkshire badly

Torrential rain has been sweeping the UK, causing travel chaos and forcing the evacuation of homes and schools.

Helicopters were sent to rescue people from homes in Worcestershire, a hospital was flooded in West Sussex and a man died in his home in Cumbria.

Roads were badly hit in the Midlands and across southern England, with flights and trains cancelled or late.

More bad weather is expected in Wales and central England overnight before moving north over the weekend.

In the village of Sedgeberrow in Worcestershire, nearly 40 people had to be rescued from their homes after the River Isbourne burst its banks - some of them were plucked from their homes by RAF helicopter.

Map: UGC galleries

Pupils at the Bredon Hill Middle school in the village of Ashton Under Hill, also in Worcestershire, are preparing to spend the last night of the summer term at school.

No-one can get in or out of the building because of the flooding.

Nearly 300 pupils from Hanley Castle High School returning from end-of-term trips are set to spend the night in Tewkesbury after their coaches became trapped on flooded roads.

Firefighters were called to help rescue children from Cherry Orchard Primary School in Worcester after it was flooded by half a foot of water.

The city's roads have been badly hit, with police advising drivers to take care on the only four remaining routes which are affected by standing water.

I have never seen rain like it. I have just been in the garden, trying to get the water out
Graham Moore, Tooting, London

Earlier, flash flooding hit many parts of Berkshire, forcing the closure of at least three schools in Windsor and one in Maidenhead, where about 30 homes were flooded and a woman had to be rescued from her car.

The town's main shopping centre, Nicholson Walk, was also shut.

The Glade music festival near Aldermaston, Reading, had to be suspended because of severe flooding with cars reported "floating around" in the car park.

Flooding in Battersea. Pic: Sebastian Darke
Battersea, south London, was hit by flooding

A National Trust property - Basildon Park, in the west of the county - was closed because shops and the car park were flooded. Homes in Newbury were also flooded.

In Gloucestershire, the council has set up emergency rest centres to shelter people forced out of their homes by flooding after the "worst conditions the county has seen in years".

Heathrow Airport says it has had to cancel 141 flights because of severe weather conditions across the country.

Luton Airport was described as "virtually cut off" by floodwaters at one point. The approach to the airport has since been cleared.

Parts of south London were badly hit, with roads submerged under 2ft of water in some parts.
See the predicted track of the torrential rain

Three people trapped in a building cut off by floods in Barry, south Wales, were rescued by emergency services.

The villages of Syresham and Helmdon in south Northamptonshire were badly hit, with a junior school evacuated in Helmdon.

In Hereford, the council handed out Wellington boots to help motorists trying to rescue about 200 vehicles stranded in a car park.

In West Sussex, Worthing Hospital was flooded by 18in of water, with many homes also flooded across the county.

And in Cumbria a 64-year-old man has died after suffering head injuries while trying to bail water out of the flooded basement of his home in Alston.

The weather across the UK has been far from typical this summer
Daniel Corbett

London's Tube network suffered major disruption, with the Circle line suspended, the District line partially suspended and several Tube stations closed because of flooding.

Mainline rail services remain badly disrupted, with services between London and the south coast and South West, and services in the Midlands particularly badly hit, with scores of train cancellations leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

The severe weather hit as thousands of families were planning to take to the roads and railways for their summer holidays, after schools in many areas finished for the summer.

BBC broadcast meteorologist Daniel Corbett said: "The weather across the UK has been far from typical this summer."

He said a broad band of low pressure had been sitting across the UK, pushing the jet stream - a ribbon of fast moving air in the upper atmosphere - further south than usual, keeping high pressure and settled weather away from the UK.

"In a normal summer the jet stream is to the north of the UK. This allows the Azores high to build across the UK and bring settled and more typical summer weather for the UK," said Mr Corbett.

Latest floods
Maidenhead: Around 30 homes flooded, main shopping centre closed.
Windsor: Two schools closed
London: Flash flooding hits parts of south and west London. Severe disruption to rail travel between London, Oxford and Bristol. Some Underground stations closed.
Worcester: Schoolchildren evacuated from a primary school; city roads flooded
M4 motorway: Partially flooded between junctions 12 and 13
Barry, South Wales: Parts of the town are underwater. Three people trapped in a building rescued by emergency services.
Northamptonshire: Villages of Syresham and Helmdon hit by flash floods
North Yorkshire: Several villages affected by floodwater, including 30 homes evacuated in Gilling Beck

Aerial views of flooding in Berkshire


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