Heavy rain causes floods in Midlands and South West

media captionThe BBC's Robert Hall describes flooding in the south west

Heavy rain has led to flooding with people needing to be rescued from waterlogged homes and roads in the south west of England.

The Environment Agency has more than 70 flood warnings in place, mainly in the South West and the Midlands, and more than 100 flood alerts across England.

Overnight downpours caused some drivers to abandon their vehicles.

In Devon and Somerset, the fire service was called to 18 rescues of people in vehicles caught in flood water.

'Worst ever'

One of the incidents involved two people who got trapped attempting to rescue stranded cattle.

In Somerset, a crew from Chew Magna went to an address in Stowey Bottom, Bishop Sutton, where they helped a woman in labour to safely leave the flood-affected property she was in.

An Avon Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "She was then transferred safely to an ambulance and taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath."

Fire crews in the county received more than 130 flood-related calls during a seven-hour period, with 20 people either rescued from flooded homes or vehicles.

Roy Worth, from Minehead, Somerset, had to abandon his car because of flooding on the A39 at Billbrook, where the water went up to his knees.

"The roads are very bad. They're the worst I've ever seen them and I've lived here nearly 12 years," he said.

The villages of Yealmpton and Tamerton Foliot in Devon are said to be "impassable".

image captionEmergency services were called out to a number of roads in Devon

Resident Nora Tisdall said her daughter, a teacher, was unable to travel to work as the main road had been closed.

She said: "The stream is pouring out over the road like a waterfall. The village is totally impassable.

"I've lived here 21 years and I've never seen it flood."

Across the country, a number of disruptions have been reported including:

  • Schools have been closed in Worcestershire, Devon and Gloucestershire
  • In Somerset, school coach services were cancelled after roads flooded
  • Hinkley Point power station, in Somerset, is unreachable due to flooded roads while Somerset County Council cancelled a full council meeting
  • In Gloucestershire, there are reports flooding is lifting the road surface in the village of Leonard Stanley
  • Rail services in Gloucester, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Yeovil, Exeter, Birmingham International, Coventry, Great Malvern and Hereford have been disrupted, with flooding at Tiverton Parkway and Birmingham New Street
  • Bus services in both Bristol and Somerset were either cancelled or diverted

In Portbury, near Bristol, villagers were trying to save the village hall from a "torrent" of flood water.

Risk of aquaplaning

Stock at the post office in North Curry, Somerset, has been ruined after it was flooded.

Owner Noel Prosser claimed it was because the main drain in the centre of the village had become blocked.

Sandbags have been placed at entrances to homes, in an effort to avoid a repeat of the damage caused last month by severe downpours in Devon and Cornwall.

Devon and Cornwall Police said there had been a number of reports of standing water on roads, creating a risk of cars aquaplaning.

image captionMotorists were advised to drive with care

A spokesman said: "Drivers need to match their speed with the conditions."

The highest rainfall overnight was on Dartmoor, Devon, with 1.3in (33mm) in 12 hours.

The Environment Agency has warned heavy downpours and strong winds earlier in the week could increase the risk of surface water flooding as leaves and debris may have blocked drains.

Dave Throup, from the agency, said: "It has been a story of surface water flooding, with some pretty atrocious conditions on the roads, but the rivers are now beginning to respond and I would expect quite a few more flood alerts to be going out during the day."

Severe gales

Weather forecasters have predicted the heavy rain will spread across the east of England while continuing in the south west.

There are currently 19 flood alerts and eight flood warnings in East Anglia and 16 flood alerts in the South East.

Michael Silverstone, BBC Weather forecaster, said: "Tomorrow, all parts of the United Kingdom will see a spell of very heavy rain, with some very strong winds on and just ahead of the rain.

"We are likely to see severe gales in exposed parts of southern and western England, Wales and Scotland, with winds gusting as high as 70mph. Even inland, some places could see gales, with winds gusting to 50 or 60mph."

He added winds will ease as the rain clears by Friday morning.

media captionMotorists found rising water in Wellington a problem

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