Flood-hit areas braced for more rain and strong winds

Ron Smith, who lives in Aller, keeps an eye on flood water levels
Image caption Residents in Aller on the Somerset Levels have been keeping a close eye on rising flood water

Flood-hit communities across the West are bracing themselves as further weather warnings have been issued for heavy rain and strong winds.

It comes as temporary flood defences on the Somerset Levels were breached and floodwaters rose by more than a metre.

Barriers have also been put up in Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire because of fears over rising water levels.

The Severn Bridges could see gusts of 50-60 mph, with possible speeds of 70mph on the M4 second crossing.

Motorists are being urged to be cautious as strong winds and heavy rain move in on Friday afternoon and into Saturday.

The Highways Agency said there is a risk of disruption due to fallen trees and debris on roads.

Flooding at Bridgwater is causing problems for train passengers between Taunton and Bristol Temple Meads, with buses replacing the service, adding about 30 minutes to journeys.

Heavy rain will bring more misery for those already flooded in Somerset while other areas in the region are preparing for further bad weather.

Two severe flood warnings - meaning a danger to life - remain in place for Saltmoor and North Moor, including Moorland, and the A361 between East Lyng and Burrowbridge.

About 80 homes in Moorland, Somerset, were evacuated on Friday morning as members of 40 Commando Royal Marines assisted in the village which has effectively been cut off for weeks.

In Wiltshire, nine flood warnings are in place, for Salisbury, Tidworth, Warminster, Malmesbury and Melksham.

The council says there are a number of road closures in place across the county, with one of the main issues a landslip on the A345, south of Marlborough.

Image caption Emergency flood barriers were put up in Bradford-on-Avon on Thursday night due to fears over rising water levels

Rob Llewellyn, of the Highways Agency, said: "We are urging road users to continue checking traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions."

The Met Office has issued an amber alert for strong southerly winds from 05:00 GMT on Saturday.

Winds are expected to drop below 60 mph by midnight on Saturday, but it will remain windy into Sunday.

As river levels remain high, Tewkesbury Borough Council in Gloucestershire is also making visits to vulnerable properties to offer advice and support.

While none has flooded yet, the council said the weather expected for Saturday looks set to increase the risk and it is making sandbags available.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Marines from 40 Commando have been building a sandbag wall around a property in Moorland, Somerset

Supt Bridget Woodhall, of Gloucestershire Police, said: "The main concern is the potential for some structural damage and trees blocking roads, particularly in the Forest of Dean.

"Our advice for residents in areas at risk of flooding is to continue to monitor the Environment Agency's website."

River levels in Gloucestershire are due to peak on Monday and Tuesday and authorities are preparing for up to 50 properties potentially being affected.

Gloucestershire Highways will have extra teams on standby in anticipation of high winds and heavy rainfall.

Councils in the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury, Stroud and Gloucester City have confirmed they are ready to open rest centres if needed.

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