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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 10:48 GMT
Severe flooding in South West
Flood waters in Cornwall
Parts of St Ives were under 5ft of water
An inshore lifeboat rescued 18 people from their homes as floodwater up to 5ft deep hit the South West.

A 90-year-old woman was among those rescued in the north Cornwall town of St Ives.

Others were knocked off their feet by the force of the water and took shelter in shops and homes until the lifeboat arrived to ferry them to safety.

Up to a dozen businesses in the resort's Tregenna Place were flooded.


Lifeboatmen were walking through St Ives up to their chins in water

Jimmy Miller, Falmouth Coastguards

Postmistress Lyn Gray, whose premises were flooded, said: "The scene is one of devastation."

Elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall, houses were flooded, roads closed and many cars abandoned.

A total of 53 flood warnings have been issued for rivers in the South, South West, East Anglia and the Midlands.

Retained firefighters were on the scene in St Ives, but there was little anyone could do as the River Stennac burst its banks, turning many roads into raging torrents.

Open in new window : South West Floods
See pictures from the floods in Devon and Cornwall
Jimmy Miller of Falmouth Coastguards, said: "Doors had been broken down by the force of the floods and lifeboatmen were walking through St Ives up to their chins in water.

lelant
Work is beginning to assess the damage from the floodwaters
"One woman was near to tears as the water came up through her cellar."

Several people were injured and were taken to the town's hospital, which itself was flooded.

Bus services have been hit in St Ives, Penzance and St Erth.

The flooding also hit train services run by First Great Western, Virgin Trains and Wessex Trains and passengers were warned to expect short-notice alterations, cancellations and delays.

Virgin Trains was advising customers not to travel from Bristol towards the West Country and Cornwall and buses were being laid on between Tiverton Parkway and Taunton.

'Absolutely terrifying'

Many roads have been closed or are impassable, with drivers warned to take extra care.

One driver had to abandon her car in deep mud pouring off the fields as she returned home from Penzance to Carbis Bay near St Ives.

"I've never seen water like it, it was absolutely terrifying," she said.

In Devon, the county council ran out of flood warning road signs.

Firefighters' warning

As the mopping up begins, the Ministry of Defence, which is co-ordinating the relief effort during the 48-hour firefighters' strike, said that "normal procedures" would be followed in assessing the continued threat posed by the weather.

In cases of severe flooding Green Goddesses would be made available to help.

But the Fire Brigades Union claimed that the ageing vehicles did not have the "capabilities" to cope with flooding emergencies and would struggle with the technical aspects of such an operation.

FBU spokesman Geoff Ellis said: "There aren't enough of them, they aren't adequate enough to deal with flooding and the troops aren't trained to deal with those situations."


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See also:

13 Nov 02 | England
12 Nov 02 | England
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