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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Warwickshire hit as rivers flood
Stratford-upon-Avon under flood water
Stratford-upon-Avon town centre has been flooded
Much of Stratford town centre has been under water after bad weather battered Warwickshire.

Performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) Swan Theatre on Saturday were cancelled following flooding on the Waterside street.

The River Leam burst its banks in Leamington and people have been urged not to go to the town centre.

Many villages along the Avon have been under water after heavy rain fell overnight in the county.

In Welford-on-Avon residents, including a woman and her two dogs, were winched to safety, after a caravan park was badly flooded.

'Better position'

Susie Chatterley said she was probably in a better position than the others so she was left until last.

She said: "The gentleman [carrying out the rescue]... treated my dogs lovely and everything. He took each one up separately and then came back down for me."

RSC advert submerged by floods in Stratford-upon-Avon - pic by Jessic Blackwall

Kristine Long, also from Welford-on-Avon, described the scene in the village.

She said: "We've had people airlifted by the RAF and the Coastguard. I've got pictures of cars where it's up to half way up the windows.

"And it's in people's houses and everything. It's awful."

Homes and businesses along the Avon in Stratford town centre were flooded and up to 30 barges became stuck.

One barge was untied before it became trapped under a bridge and later sank. The owner is said to be "absolutely distraught" after having it refurbished only three weeks ago.

Pump rooms flooded

Dean Asker, spokesman for the RSC, told BBC News that performances of Macbett in the afternoon and Macbeth in the evening had been cancelled.

He said: "It would be difficult to negotiate your way through that area of the town.

Car caught in flood waters Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire
Water was rising 2ft to 3ft high and cars were quickly submerged
BBC Midlands Today reporter Peter Wilson, Henley-in-Arden

"The Swan Theatre is not flooded, but the advice from everybody is don't travel unless it's necessary."

Artistic director Michael Boyd said the Swan, the RSC's smallest theatre, was the only one affected.

He said: "We're very lucky in that our main theatre, the Courtyard Theatre, is up a hill and we're not actually doing performances there."

Mr Boyd said the RSC had been "relatively unaffected" and audience numbers have not suffered because of recent bad weather.

Warwick District Council said people should not go to the centre of Leamington unless it was absolutely necessary.

The town's pump rooms have been flooded, and the council spokesman Richard Brooker said the situation was likely to get worse.

Rising waters

BBC Midlands Today reporter Peter Wilson had to be rescued from his car when the River Alne burst its banks and flooded Henley-in-Arden.

He said: "I found myself in the middle of the ensuing chaos. Water was rising 2ft to 3ft high and cars were quickly submerged.

The barge which was sunk
A barge was untied, became trapped under a bridge and sunk

"The cars are still strewn across the High Street, the main road into Henley. You don't realise how powerful that water is."

Flood waters have been continuing to rise in Bidford-on-Avon and Welford-on-Avon.

A number of roads in south Warwickshire have been impassable for motorists due to widespread flooding, police said.

Severe flood warnings have been issued on the Avon from Stratford to Upstream of Evesham, on the Dene from Wellesbourne to Charlecote Park, on the Leam from Marton to Leamington Spa and on the Stour from Shipston-on-Stour to Clifford Chambers.

Flood warnings have also been put out on the Anker from Nuneaton to Tamworth, on the Avon from Rugby to upstream of Warwick, from Stanford to upstream of Rugby, from Warwick to upstream of Stratford, on the Blythe from Cheswick Green to Coleshill, on the Cole from Shard End to Coleshill, and on the Tame from Water Orton to Lea Marston.

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