St Asaph: Woman's body found inside flooded home

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Media captionThe RNLI filmed a rescue inside a block of flats in St Asaph

The body of an elderly woman has been found in a flooded home in St Asaph, north Wales, as heavy rain continues to cause problems in England and Wales.

There are two severe flood warnings - indicating danger to life - on the Elwy, and some 170 regular flood warnings across England and Wales.

North Wales Police advised vigilance, particularly in the town of Rhuddlan.

David Cameron has said he is personally involved in flood insurance talks.

Visiting the Devon village of Buckfastleigh, which was flooded at the weekend, Mr Cameron said: "It is obviously very traumatic when communities are hit by flooding like this... and now we need to help them with the recovery.

"We have to make sure their insurance pays out, make sure the Environment Agency puts in place good flood defences, make sure there are better warning schemes."

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Media captionDavid Cameron: 'Always lessons to learn'

The Association of British Insurers says discussions about extending a deal that obliges insurers to provide cover to high-risk properties while the government improves flood defences are at "crisis point", and says this could leave 200,000 homes uninsured next year.

The government has denied the talks have "stalled".

The prime minister said: "It's important that insurance companies ... do what they're meant to, which is provide insurance to households, and we're going to make sure that happens. I am personally involved.

"I've seen myself in my own constituency the difficulty people have when they can't get insurance. It's not just that it makes them feel unsafe in their own home but they can't sell their own home, and so it's very important we get this sorted on their behalf."

In St Asaph, the woman's body was discovered at about noon as emergency rescue workers carried out house-to-house checks.

North Wales Police are treating the death as unexplained, but said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Some residents have been rescued by lifeboats and fire crews after becoming trapped in their homes, and a pregnant woman was brought out the window of her property by British Red Cross volunteers.

About 100 homes in St Asaph have been flooded, with water levels in some said to be 2-3ft (60-90cm) in places.

The Environment Agency said the Elwy had reached 14ft 3in (4.35m) at St Asaph - more than 3ft (1m) deeper than its previous record, and compared with a typical depth range of 3-6ft (1-2m).

Residents have also been evacuated from their homes as the threat of flooding increases in Ruthin, 15 miles away, where Denbighshire County Council says up to 400 properties are potentially at risk.

A North Wales Police statement, at 20:00 GMT, said flood warnings remained in place throughout the region, but river levels were falling slowly and no rain was expected in the area overnight.

It said high tide was due at 22:00 GMT, and residents in the town of Rhuddlan in particular were urged "to remain vigilant and check with the Environment Agency website and listen to local radio or TV for updates".

Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: "With our partners we will be working throughout the night to ensure water levels are reduced, roads are re-opened or kept open and homes, property and of course the community remains safe.

"When we believe the affected areas are safe to return to we will notify all concerned but until that time I'd ask, for your own safety, to stay away from those areas."

Hovercraft launched

The Met Office has issued yellow "be aware" rain warnings for North East England and Yorkshire and the Humber, suggesting "river levels are very high and further showers running into the area could exacerbate conditions locally".

"The public should therefore continue to be aware of the risk of ongoing flooding," the Met Office said.

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The Environment Agency's Innes Thomson said: "The river levels generally are still rising, there's a huge amount of water still on the land and still trying to get out to sea through our river systems.

"I think we have to be very cautious over the next 24 to 48 hours, keep a very close eye on all our flood defences, which are for the most part working extremely well throughout the country."

Gloucestershire fire service has launched its hovercraft to help people at a traveller site, near the village of Sandhurst, trapped by floodwater from the River Severn.

The service earlier rescued a family of four by boat from their home in the village which was surrounded by floodwater.

Image caption Gloucestershire fire service has been helping people trapped by floodwater from the River Severn

In other developments:

  • Flooding is also continuing to affect East Coast rail routes including between Durham and York, and between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Newcastle. East Coast Trains says there is flooding on the line six miles south of Darlington
  • In Cornwall, the A39 at Perranarworthal is closed in both directions because of flooding and a poor road surface. And levels at Cornwall's largest natural lake, lake Loe Pool, are 1m above normal
  • The River Ouse in York is also being monitored, with the peak expected to be on Wednesday. The river burst its banks on Monday, affecting riverside buildings, although the situation is said to be less severe than flooding experienced in September
  • North Yorkshire County Council estimates 50 roads are closed because of flooding
  • The latest Environment Agency data shows 960 homes have suffered flooding since last Wednesday
  • Floodgates have gone up in Upton, in Worcestershire, following a £4.5m flood alleviation scheme which was completed in the summer
  • Parts of the new £45m defence scheme in Nottingham have been put into action for the first time. It is the largest of new flood protection schemes, but plans for more have been cut back, reports our environment analyst Roger Harrabin

The EA has 172 flood warnings in force - which say flooding is expected and immediate action is required.

There are also 184 less severe flood alerts, which indicate that people should prepare for possible flooding.

The agency said levels in the River Nene in Northamptonshire had "risen significantly".

It warned that "large, slow responding rivers" - particularly the Thames, Trent and Severn - would continue to rise over the next few days. Officials have deployed mobile defences to protect properties in Oxford.

"Groundwater levels in Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset, also continue to rise and could result in flooding of properties and the A35 trunk road," it added.

Two flood warnings for the Scottish Borders have now been lifted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and there are none in Northern Ireland.

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