Christmas flood risk remains with rain set for days
Wet weather is set to continue until at least Friday, potentially bringing further flooding to parts of the UK, weather forecasters have predicted.
Heavy showers and gusty winds will move eastwards across England and Wales on Christmas Day, but parts of central and eastern Scotland should stay dry.
The Environment Agency (EA) said many places will stay on flood alert despite a slight easing of weather conditions.
More than 470 properties have been flooded since Wednesday, the EA said.
Water levels are still rising on some of Britain's longest rivers, such as the Thames and the Severn, the agency added.
At Ironbridge in Shropshire, temporary flood barriers have been put up along the Severn to keep householders dry on Christmas Day.
Dorset is the area most likely to experience more flooding on Christmas Day, due to rising groundwater levels, officials have warned.
The agency has issued more than 150 flood warnings and more than 250 flood alerts for England and Wales, with most concentrated in the Midlands and southern counties of England.
In Essex, flooding is expected along the River Crouch, and the fire service has received calls from people with flooded homes or who are trapped in vehicles in flood water.
The worst hit areas so far have been Heybridge, Brentwood, Wickford, Ongar and Ingatestone.
Scotland is expected to see some respite from the rain on Wednesday.
More than 18,000 calls have been made to the EA's Floodline service in the past six days.
David Jordan, director of operations at the agency, said: "Although the rain is set to ease a little in the coming days, the ground is still very wet and river levels remain high, so we would ask people to keep up to date with the latest warnings and stay prepared for flooding".
Most rail operators do not run services on Christmas Day, but disruption to train services caused by flooding and landslides is set to continue after the holiday.
Trains will not run between Manchester Oxford Road and Liverpool Lime Street until Thursday due to a landslip at Glazebrook.
Meanwhile the railway line between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton Parkway will not reopen until Friday at the earliest, while only a limited replacement bus service will operate.
On the roads, the eastbound carriageway of the A27 is closed at Chichester in West Sussex and is not expected to reopen until Boxing Day.
Essex police have closed A127 from its junction with M25 after heavy rain caused flooding on a carriageway between Halfway House and Southend.
Essex Fire and Rescue Service has rescued a number of motorists from their vehicles in Ongar and Blackmore.
And it has also helped people whose homes have flooded in Heybridge near Maldon, and Runwell near Wickford.
In Wales, the A487 is closed in both directions between Machynlleth and Derwenlas due to flooding but should reopen later on Christmas morning.
Met Office figures suggest 2012 is set to be one of the wettest years since records began in 1910.
Before December, the average rainfall for the year so far was 1,202mm - placing it 13th in the list of wettest years.
Due to the deluge of rain in the run up to Christmas, forecasters say 2012 is now likely to finish with one of the highest rainfall totals on record.
The year 2000 remains the UK's wettest year, with an average rainfall of 1,337mm.
BBC forecaster Matt Taylor said: "The weather is lacking a little bit of festive cheer at the moment.
"On Boxing Day, more wet weather will push in from the south-west. While any rain is not welcome at the moment, at least the strong winds will push the rain away from the south-west quite smartly".
He concluded: "It really doesn't end."