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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Victims share their flooding tales
With many areas across England and Wales affected by the torrential downpours, readers have been sharing their severe weather stories.

HEREFORD

Even boy wizards can be thwarted by freak weather.

Harry Potter lookalike Joseph Evans was left stranded on his way to appear at a book launch in Wigan.

Joseph Evans
Joseph was due to help launch the new Harry Potter book

He left his home in Pontypridd with his mother Emma at 0245 BST to catch a 0400 train from Cardiff.

"We got as far as Hereford," Mrs Evans said.

"We stayed there for what seemed a long time and then were told we could not go any further because of flooding."

Joseph's career as Harry Potter has taken off over the past two years after his mother secretly entered him in a lookalike competition.

The 17-year-old was due to greet shoppers turning up to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at a shopping centre.

After being told to leave the carriage, the pair boarded a train to take them back to Cardiff.

"Once we left Hereford, we looked out of the window and could see the amount of water in the fields," Mrs Evans said. "It was unbelievable."

"Joe was due to be working with an owl - a Hedwig from the Harry Potter books - I do not know if he got to the launch," she added.

M5, WEST MIDS & GLOUCS

Several people contacted the BBC after finding themselves stuck overnight with thousands of other motorists on the M5 in the West Midlands and Gloucestershire.

Chris Shaw described the scenes as "just amazing".

"I am in the middle lane surrounded by cars, caravans, lorries - everybody has got their engine switched off," he said.

"But there are families on the motorway walking around, young children. There are people walking dogs."

We just came to a halt. We were just stuck there for hours and hours
Chris Suller

Chris Suller, from south Wales, found herself stuck on a coach for 23 hours with 32 other pensioners.

The party started out in Scarborough on Friday morning.

"We had a good run for about two hours and then we got down to the M5 heading for South Wales - about 6 o'clock last evening it was just chaos," she said.

"We just came to a halt. We were just stuck there for hours and hours waiting for them [authorities] to decide what they were going to do because the river burst it banks..."

Their coach was eventually was able to pull into at a service area on the A40 in the morning.

WORCESTERSHIRE

Tom Owen, 37, from Stratford-upon-Avon, told the BBC News website that the last time he spoke to his stepfather Geoff Poyner, he was up to his armpits in water. He told Mr Owen he was facing a "raging torrent".

The 75-year-old lives in the main street of Sedgeberrow and Mr Owen said he did not know if his stepfather was still trapped upstairs or was one of the people airlifted to safety.

Mr Owen's mother could not get back home due to the floodwaters and when he tried, he was forced back at every turn.

He said: "I tried four different routes but my small car couldn't get through the three foot waters. I had to give up. I felt so helpless.

The River Isbourne, he said, "is little more than a brook. I am in disbelief that the water could get anywhere near their front doorstep, let alone inside.

"My stepdad sounded cheerful when I spoke to him. I am not so concerned about his immediate safety as the long-term problems they are going to face.

They will almost have to start over again - the whole downstairs will need replaced. My stepdad has classic cars and there's an old Bentley probably under six feet of water in the garage."

Mr Owen said the river had flooded before and the bridge in the village was widened last year to stop the water backing up, but that it had clearly not worked.

BARRY, SOUTH WALES

Sarah Garcia thought she was safe in her house on a hill overlooking Barry.

But unfortunately, the rain proved too much.

Flooded garden
Mrs Garcia's garden has been watered to the extreme

It had been pouring down since late Thursday night and when Mrs Garcia came downstairs on Friday morning, she found a new waterfall feature had appeared in her garden overnight.

"My garden has been decimated and I had just bought 300 worth of plants," she said.

"The water was cascading down the steps and it came a third of the way up my back door steps. We had to take some bricks out of the wall in the upper level just to let the water out."

Mrs Garcia, 40, lives just below Barry Rugby Club and its field is completely sodden.

"I had watched the flooding in Yorkshire and thought something like that would never happen up here," she said. "This is turning into a regular occurrence."

She and her stepsons have been housebound all day and she refused to allow them to play in the dingy kept in their garage.

"I said no because if the rain starts up again, we might need it for later," she said.

WEST LONDON

Alan Palmer had to pinch himself when the rains started.

Flooded car
A car is left stranded in a flash flood in Wallington, south London

He works for British Airways and has visited lots of places. He said the storm was "tropical", and similar to the ones he has witnessed in Florida or Africa.

The 51-year-old from Ruislip, west London, watched the hour-long storm from his car while he waited for his wife, who was at a job interview.

"That's the first time I have seen a storm of such ferocity in the UK," he said. "There was sheet lightning, heavy thunder and the sky was dark.

"Driving conditions were diabolical and I was just in a residential area. I think we are very lucky that the rain stopped and it didn't happen during rush hour."

MAIDENHEAD

Richard Evans, 34, failed to make it into work. His usual route had become a waterway and instead of running into traffic jams, he was coming up against abandoned cars.

Richard Evans
Richard Evans self-measures the height of the water

Mr Evans' house was not affected because it sits on a hill, but he said there was a whirlpool in his garden as the water tried to flow down the drain.

"The heavens opened at about 7am with a thunderstorm and it rained for about three hours," he said. "I found I couldn't get to work because everywhere was knee-deep in water.

"I have lived here for 14 years and have never seen anything like it. The shopping centre at the bottom of my road is closed and the sewers have been emptying into the water.

"I think the water has been pumped out of the town centre now but the council are giving out sandbags as more rain is expected, which is very worrying."

EAST SUSSEX

Myles Wynne-Pedder was sent home from school because the dining room was about to be flooded, not with hungry students, but with water.

The 14-year-old is a pupil at Ringmer Community School, where the rain just kept "coming and coming".

"The football field is at a slight angle towards the school and, where the dining hall is, there's a patio which was four inches under water," he said. "They had to put sandbags in front of the door and apparently some water had come into the corridors.

"It was just throwing it down for about two hours. You couldn't see the bottom of the field for the rain."

He added that "every cloud has a silver lining", and he was looking forward to his extended weekend.






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