Sean Battista recalls escape from Newburn flood car

Sean Battista was in Newburn, near Newcastle, when the main road was overwhelmed by floodwater

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A man has told how he escaped from his car seconds before it was submerged by raging floodwater.

Sean Battista was driving in Newburn, near Newcastle, when the main road was overwhelmed by water from the area's worst September storm in 30 years.

Just yards away, the torrent ripped away foundations from a block of flats, which were left in danger of collapse.

Mr Battista said within 20 seconds water was up to his waist as he tried to steer the vehicle through the water.

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Another driver helped open the door of Mr Battista's car so he could escape the water from a ruptured culvert and overflowing drains.

The painter and decorator, from Newcastle, said: "I was driving through and at the time the water was about six inches deep.

"But when I looked to my left I could see drains popping all around and within about 20 seconds the water was up to my waist.

"A man who had been driving a council van was rushing away and shouted at me to get out of the car.

"I tried to get the door open but the water was above my waist by now and the car was beginning to bop about on the water.

"I managed to get out but was in such a rush to get away that I left my keys and everything inside.

Sean Battista's abandoned car Mr Battista's car was completely submerged in seconds

"By the time I got out of the water there was just a bit of the roof showing, then it was completely underwater and gone."

Just feet away from where Mr Battista's car was abandoned, a block of flats was left in danger of collapse after floodwater ripped away its foundations.

Environment Agency and Newcastle City Council officials have said the clean-up operation will take several weeks.

A decision on whether to demolish the flats is likely to be taken within the next few days.

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