More rain set to exacerbate flood disruption
- 23 December 2012
- From the section UK
Flooding and heavy rain are continuing to cause problems in south-west England and parts of Wales and Scotland.
Houses have been flooded and evacuated in Stoke Canon, near Exeter, and Stonehaven, near Aberdeen.
Rail services in the south-west of England and between Dundee and Aberdeen have been hit by floods and landslips.
The Environment Agency has flood warnings in place across all of its English regions - South West, South East, Anglian, Midlands, North West and North East, as well as Wales.
Up to 100 homes were evacuated in Stonehaven after the River Carron burst its banks and affected a number of streets in the centre of the town. Residents said water levels were waist-high.
"A significant part of the town has still got water in it and in the part that hasn't, there's a whole lot of mud and debris on the street," said David Fleming, a member of the local community council.
Scotland's environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said public safety was his priority and added: "People planning journeys home for Christmas can check on how their journeys may be affected through a range of resources, including the Traffic Scotland website and Sepa's floodline phone service."
In other developments:
- Trains are not running between Taunton, in Somerset, and Exeter, in Devon, because the line is flooded. There is a limited replacement bus service, but the National Rail Enquiries website says the Exeter to Tiverton branch line will not reopen before 28 December at the earliest
- There are no trains running between Dundee and Aberdeen due to a landslip
- The Forth Road Bridge has been closed to high-sided vehicles because of high winds, while gusts of up to 70mph are expected on Shetland. Ferry services to the Northern Isles have been suspended due to the winds
- In Brechin, Angus, residents in the River Street area were placed on alert as the waters of the River South Esk continued to rise, threatening a repeat of the flooding experienced in October
- In south Wales, four homes in Pontypridd were evacuated and one family, with a baby, escaped after heavy rain caused a wall to collapse, bringing tons of earth and rubble on to their house
- An air-sea rescue helicopter from RAF Valley in Anglesey was called on to airlift an elderly woman who fell ill and was trapped by floodwater at Sawley Marina on the river Trent near Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
- Flooding in Berkshire caused Reading services on the westbound M4 to close for a time, and one lane of the westbound carriageway, causing long delays
In Stoke Canon, north of Exeter in Devon, 30 properties have flooded, with at least 20 residents being moved to safety, after the River Exe burst its banks.
Steve Hawkins, from Network Rail, said the track at Cowley Bridge, north of Exeter, was last flooded 12 years ago but he added: "Unfortunately in the last four weeks it has happened three times."
Mr Hawkins said the railway line could be repaired only when the flood waters had receded, and he said it could take up to five days to repair.
BBC forecaster Matt Taylor said: "Heavy rain in the north of Scotland will slowly ease and wetter weather will return to central and southern parts of England and Wales overnight, bringing with it the threat of further flooding particularly in parts of Devon and Cornwall."
UK flooding minister Richard Benyon said: "It's terrible to have your home or business flooded at any time of year, but for the families affected it's especially distressing for it to happen during the Christmas season.
"It's crucial people continue to be vigilant by keeping a close eye on the Environment Agency's flood warnings and allowing the emergency services to do their work."
Clinging to tree
In Umberleigh, near Barnstaple in north Devon, a woman was swept away from her car in the early hours of Sunday after becoming stuck in fast-flowing flood water.
A police helicopter found her clinging to branches of a tree - where she had been for 50 minutes - on the banks of the swollen River Taw, and she was rescued by a RNLI lifeboat. She was treated for exposure to the water.
A man and child who remained trapped in the car were rescued by firefighters wearing drysuits.
Four people and two dogs trapped in two flooded properties in Bishops Tawton, near Barnstaple, were also rescued overnight by a fire crew and RNLI in-shore boat.
The River Caen in Braunton breached its banks for a second night and the village is bracing itself for more flooding on Sunday night.
Diane Cohen, 63, who runs the Mariners Arms pub, said: "We have a mound of sodden carpet out in the garden and are now moving sand bags around so we can get people safely in and out during the course of the day and will sandbag up again tonight because we've got more bad weather coming in and the River Caen is going to flood again."
Cornwall Council says it is expecting another band of bad weather, bringing with it an estimated 10mm to 20mm of rain, from Sunday evening into the early hours of Monday.
The river Severn is also high but flood defences appear to have succeeded in Bewdley, Kempsey and Upton-upon-Severn.
The Environment Agency's area manager said: "Levels are high, and particularly high in Worcester, where it is probably the highest it's been since July 2007."
But he added: "I think the Severn is now as high as it's going to get."