Devon and Cornwall floods continue to cause disruption
- 23 December 2012
- From the section England
About 30 homes have been flooded in a Devon village as heavy rain continues to cause problems in the South West.
Twenty-five people were led to safety by emergency services in the village of Stoke Canon, Exeter, after the River Exe burst its banks.
One severe flood warning remains in place in Cornwall and around 170 flood warnings in England and Wales.
Another band of bad weather is expected from Sunday evening into the early hours of Monday, Cornwall Council says.
In Stoke Canon some residents were evacuated from their properties and taken to a rescue centre and 11 people, including a baby, were rescued from an isolated farmhouse. All were unharmed.
Resident Lucy Kirk said: "Obviously you've lost your home, you've lost all your belongings and obviously you're never going to replace some of the valuables that you've had. It's upsetting."
Sgt Andy Squires, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "It's tragic, it really is, but you have to take some comfort from the fact there's been no loss of life or serious injury.
"You've got people's Christmas presents washing around in the room with Christmas trees, it's just very sad"
Overnight, 12 people in the Cornish town of Lostwithiel were taken to a rescue centre by RNLI lifeboat.
In Umberleigh, Devon, a woman was rescued from a river after she was swept away from her car in flood water.
A police helicopter, using thermal imaging equipment, found her clinging to a tree on the banks of the swollen River Taw, shortly after 03:00 GMT.
It is believed she had been in the water for up to 50 minutes and was treated for exposure.
Struggle to cope
Robin Goodlad, from the RNLI said: "She's extremely lucky. How she managed to hold on in that flow for that amount of time, I have no idea."
A man and a child who remained trapped in the car were rescued by firefighters.
Elsewhere, four people and two dogs trapped in two flooded properties in Bishops Tawton, near Barnstaple, were rescued overnight by a fire crew and RNLI in-shore boat.
In Lostwithiel, fire crews stayed overnight amid fears that further flooding would occur at high tide at 01:00 GMT but the rain eased off.
The BBC's John Henderson said the River Fowey had dropped by about 1.5m on Sunday morning and the clean-up operation had begun.
A high volume pump, capable of clearing a tonne of water a second, was used to clear flood water from the town.
The pump will be used later in Helston, Cornwall, where dozens of homes were flooded when the River Cober broke its banks on Saturday.
Train services throughout the region have been severely disrupted with services between Plymouth, Exeter St Davids and Taunton suspended.
Network Rail said one of two plastic dams set up to protect the railway line at Exeter to minimise flood damage is itself now under water.
First Great Western said the Exeter to Tiverton Parkway line would not reopen until Friday 28 at the earliest and it was hoped the Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple and Liskeard to Looe lines would reopen on 29 December.
The company said where possible it was operating replacement bus services.
Residents in Pilton, near Barnstaple, may have to be evacuated if flood water from the River Yeo reaches their homes, the council has warned.
Emergency accommodation is being provided at Pilton Community College.
With more rain expected, rivers in the South West will struggle to cope, the Environment Agency warns.
Nick Ely, from the agency, said: "Wherever the rain falls, the rivers will respond quickly. We have problems with 'flashy' rivers in Cornwall... where the rivers respond very rapidly with lots of run-off.
"We also have these problems with the catchments being so wet, that our bigger rivers... are also filling up and rising very rapidly".
In Braunton the clean-up operation has started after about 30 homes and 20 businesses were flooded on Saturday by more than a metre of water.
Business owner, Jason Little, said: "I'm devastated. I was hoping to go and see my parents and family in Kent, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. People are trying to get back on their feet as soon as possible."
Hugh Griffith, from Devon County Council, said it was due to inspect several bridges which had been damaged by floodwater.
He said: "Collard bridge in Snapper near Goodleigh has gone down and we've got a number of other bridges that have been under water.
"We've got people looking at the foundations. A lot of our bridges are on rock so they should be fairly safe but a lot of damage can be caused by different tidal situations and debris within the water."
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it had attended 68 flooding-related incidents on Saturday and seven on Sunday.