Page last updated at 19:18 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Flash floods hit homes and roads

Drivers on a flooded road in Gloucestershire
Floods caused travel chaos in parts of south- west England

Torrential rain has caused flash flooding in parts of England, Wales and Scotland, stranding drivers and causing water to enter hundreds of homes.

Somerset and Devon were especially badly affected, with roads submerged and people trapped in their homes.

A young woman died in Dorset when her car crashed off the road during a heavy rain storm.

There are now 40 flood warnings in place in England and Wales, with the West Country and Midlands worst hit.

Train services between London, Bristol and the south-west of England have been disrupted.

Thirty people were rescued from their vehicles and homes and more than 200 people in Somerset found their cellars and ground floors under water.

Norman Evans, of Devon and Somerset Fire Service, said the service had received hundreds of calls.

He said there was up to 18 inches of floodwater in places and urged motorists to travel only if the trip was absolutely necessary.

Road conditions were "atrocious", he said. The worst hit areas were said to be Chard, Ilminster, Shepton Mallet and Street.

Car rescue

In the village of Walton, near Street, residents Jane and Tony Bird said their 11-year-old son, Jack, who had slept on a mattress downstairs with friends, woke up floating.

Swansea Coastguard has reported that a helicopter has been deployed to flooded areas in the county.


Flooding scenes inStreet, Bruton, Wellington, Exeter and Weymouth

Six people were rescued from their homes in Weymouth in Dorset after a river burst its banks and in Wiltshire, fire crews attended 80 flooded homes and answered a total of 200 calls requesting help.

Fire crews have pumped water out of about 60 properties, and they are warning several households may not be able to return home for days, if not weeks.

Officers are investigating whether the weather was a factor in an accident on the A35 near Poole, which killed a 22-year-old female motorist.

Further north in Cheshire, fire crews rescued a woman from the roof of her car shortly before 0700 GMT after she became stranded because of floodwater in Crewe.

Firefighters were also called to homes in Stourbridge, West Midlands, which flooded after overnight downpours, and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has attended a number of calls.

The weather also caused problems for sport, with persistent rain resulting in the abandonment of Cheltenham Racecourse's meeting on Saturday.

Disgruntled commuters on the ''chaos'' on the trains

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it had already dealt with at least a dozen calls from flooded homes in the north of the county.

Strathmore Road in Crawley is understood to be flooded after the River Mole burst its banks and sandbags are being put in place to prevent water getting into a nursing home.

According to BBC weather forecaster Chris Fawkes, the heaviest rain over south-west England has now moved away, but showers are due to follow. However, these will not be as heavy as the earlier rainfall.

Stranded sheep

National Rail said train services were subject to "severe delays" on several routes, with a reduced train service running between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

Services between Paddington and Taunton, Exeter St Davids, Plymouth and Penzance were suspended.

There were also delays to Southeastern services between Hither Green and Dartford, all trains through Birmingham International station, Virgin Trains services between Rugby and Birmingham New Street and CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways services at Banbury.

Meanwhile, flooding has caused problems for householders in parts of mid and west Wales.

Firefighters pumped out properties in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire after heavy rain overnight.

The most calls were from Fishguard with others coming from Newcastle Emlyn, Llanelli, Haverfordwest and Pontardawe.

And in Scotland scores of sheep at a farm in Perth were being rescued after being stranded on a hilltop by rising flood waters, the fire service said.

The 100-strong flock are on top of a mound in a field in Mains of Aberdalgie Farm. They became trapped when the nearby River Earn burst its banks.

A spokeswoman for Tayside Fire and Rescue Service said the farmer was rescuing the sheep himself, and that the high water levels were caused by snow thawing on the hills and swelling the river.

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In Pictures: Severe flooding
13 Dec 08 |  In Pictures


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