Devon roads and rail hit by flooding
- 26 November 2012
- From the section Devon
Train services have been severely disrupted and many minor roads are still impassable in Devon after flooding over the weekend.
Network Rail said services on the main railway line out of the county had been hit by flooding at Cowley Bridge between Exeter and Tiverton.
Flood warnings are still in place on most of the county's rivers, including the Exe, Torridge, Taw and Clyst.
Firefighters rescued people in 51 vehicles stuck in floods.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it was the busiest weekend for the service in 50 years.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was in Devon to see the damage caused by the flooding.
He said: "I offer my deepest sympathy to the households across the South West who have suffered flooding.
"It's very frightening for young and old people and very disruptive for businesses.
"I would ask everyone to work together, and with the Environment Agency, look at their website.
"I am worried some of these terrible tragedies could have been avoided if people had kept themselves up to date with the information we're putting out."
Leader of Devon County Council, John Hart, said he had spoken to Mr Paterson and urged him to tell the secretary of state that the county was a "special case".
He said Devon required additional funding to fix flood-related problems on the M5, A30 and rail routes.
Mr Hart said: "My heart goes out to the families I've met today whose homes have been ruined. However there is a very serious economic cost to these events which affects all of us in Devon.
"We have 8,000 miles of roads in Devon to maintain, which are vital to the region's economy, and the network will continue to deteriorate if we do not receive extra funding to repair the damage permanently."
A number of roads in the county were closed on Monday due to the weather, including those around Umberleigh, Topsham and Beer.
Chris Cranstone of Devon County Council said: "We expect a lot of significant problems on the 6,000 miles of minor roads in Devon."
Train services have also been hit by landslips across the county, including one at Dawlish.
Network Rail said the route between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St Davids, which had been blocked by landslips, had reopened with speed restrictions.
The company added it was continuing to asses "significant damage" to signalling and telecoms equipment and it could be mid-week before services improved.
John Baker, from Network Rail, said: "We are struggling to get routes back up and running. Further flood damage on Saturday and Sunday has washed out more ballast from under the tracks."
Kennford near Exeter was one of the worst affected areas in Devon, with about 30 properties flooded and some residents concerned they will not be able to get property insurance in the future.
Resident Les Seaton said: "It came up so quick, it was an absolute nightmare.
"We can't get any insurance because the Environment Agency has marked it down as a flood plain."
The parish council has set up a community fund to help those without cover and has so far raised £3,500.
In Colebrook, Plympton, the Environment Agency said eight properties were "seriously flooded" due to surface water.
Rebecca Stuckey, whose house was one of those affected, said: "There's nothing we can do to stop the water at all."
Devon and Cornwall Police said it was thought a 21-year-old woman killed after a tree fell on a tent in Exeter could have been homeless.
Exeter City Council described her death as "tragic".
A spokesman said the number of homeless people in the city was "unfortunately high".
Two men, aged 27 and 35, were also in the tent and were injured.
The Environment Agency has advice on its website for those who have been affected by flooding.
Aveton Gifford Primary School near Kingsbridge was closed on Monday due to flooding.
Flooding which affected the Gdynia Way main road into Plymouth last week was probably caused by a "large lump of concrete" which has now been removed from a main sewer, said South West Water (SWW).
"We are really hopeful we have resolved it," an SWW spokesman said.
Forecasters say there will still be some heavy outbreaks of rain on Monday and with the ground already saturated this may exacerbate flooding problems.