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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Motorist praises flood rescuers
Couple rescued from sinking car

An elderly man has praised passers-by who dragged him and his wife to safety after their car was engulfed by floods.

One man stripped to the waist and hoisted the rear of the Nissan Micra on to his shoulders to save Gordon and Myra Nelson.

Two other men joined in by wading across and dragging the couple from the car after Newcastle was hit by torrential downpours.

Meanwhile, 650 homes remain without power after floods in Yorkshire.

Villages in the region were cut off, roads washed away and nine people were rescued by RAF helicopter crews when a deluge of flood water swept through the area on Sunday.

The hailstones grew to the size of marbles, which smashed my next-door neighbour's green house
Donny Williams, Co Durham

Floodwater in Helmsley, about 20 miles north of York, and damaged roads in nearby Hawnby and made access to the area difficult, hampering work to restore supplies.

It is estimated a month's rainfall - about two and a half inches - fell in one hour across North Yorkshire.

Residents in South Shields, Sunderland and East Yorkshire were also affected by the power cuts and flooding.

An electricity sub station in Beverley, East Yorkshire was one of the many places to be struck by lightning during the storms.

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

However, one of the most daring rescue attempts created by the weather involved Mrs and Mrs Nelson in Newcastle - who saw their car sink into the flood water seconds after they were pulled clear.

Mr Nelson, 77, called the rescuers, who were believed to have been drinking at a nearby pub, "priceless".

He said: "I was very concerned for my wife and it's a nasty feeling to know you're physically limited.

"Fortunately the lads pulled us both out and took us into the pub. They were all wonderful.

"One of the lads even went back to get the car keys, which were still in the ignition. He dived down under the water and got them straight away.

"I can't thank them enough. They were absolutely priceless."

Gordon Nelson
Mr Nelson said he was physically limited because of his age

Sunday's dramatic rescue happened after deep water collected at the foot of a steep hill in Walkergate.

One of the men waded into almost five feet of flood water which had collected on the road under a bridge.

He struggled to prop the rear of the Nissan Micra on his shoulders as the other men joined in the rescue.

Moments later one man managed to make his way to the passenger door and carried Mrs Gordon, 76, to safety. He was then joined by another man, who rescued Mr Gordon.

The burly rescuer, who had hoisted the car above the water, then let the vehicle drop - only to see it sink into the water within seconds.

Walkergate resident Garry Alexander, who filmed the rescue with his camcorder, said: "Everyone thought someone was just messing about in the river with an abandoned car. No-one realised there was anyone in it.

"Then it dawned on us that the lad was holding the car out of the water, and we were all surprised to see two more lads drag the elderly couple out."

See other rescues as the flash floods hit northern England

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