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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Flash floods clean-up under way
Boy looking at flood damage at his home
Cars were washed into gardens and buildings collapsed
Residents hit by flash floods that struck North Yorkshire are beginning a massive clean-up operation.

Villages were cut off, roads washed away and nine people were reported missing during a night of heavy storms.

Two RAF helicopters were scrambled to rescue the missing people when they were tracked down in the market town of Helmsley, which was worst hit.

The flooding followed a weekend of high temperatures across the UK which left four people dead from drowning.

In Yorkshire, drivers were forced to abandon their cars and climb trees to escape rising waters after the River Rye burst its banks.

The water is right up to the top of the bridge, I've never seen anything like it
Carol Swift,
Helmsley resident

The flood waters forced many residents to leave their homes and spend the night in the town hall.

The downpour over the North York Moors cut off a number of villages, with Thirsk, Carlton and Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe among those affected.

Early on Monday, North Yorkshire Police said the A170 and B1257 roads remained closed. The bridge leading into Helmsley was described as looking perilous.

A spokesman said the roads would remain closed for "quite some time", although the flood waters had reached their peak just after 0130 BST and were "going down satisfactorily".

Map of areas affected by floods

The storms first hit the area at about 1700 BST on Sunday.

RAF crews from North Yorkshire and Wales scoured the area and rescued people from cars, trees and the roofs of isolated homes.

One elderly woman who had suffered a heart attack was winched to safety in the village of Hawnby, which was reported to have been cut off.

Carol Swift, a fish and chip shop owner in Helmsley, said the town had been devastated by the flood.

Drowning incidents

The waters threatened to engulf the bridge over the River Rye - the only way into the town.

"The water is right up to the top of the bridge, I've never seen anything like it," she said.

"But everyone will rally round in Helmsley, we shall recover very quickly from this."

The weekend's heatwave led to four drowning incidents as people tried to cool off in the sea, in lakes and in rivers.

Two men drowned in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire while the body of a 23-year-old man was pulled from the sea near Babbacombe in Devon.

A boy of 16 died in hospital after being pulled from the River Thames at Sunbury in Surrey.


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