Devon villages 'cut off' after flooding

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Media captionParts of east Devon are among areas affected by flooding

Heavy rain and flooding in Devon has "cut off" some villages, closed roads and disrupted trains.

People have been evacuated from their homes in a village near Tiverton after a canal breached its banks.

Hundreds of First Great Western rail passengers have been left stranded in Exeter after services were cancelled because of problems on lines caused by rain between Exeter and Taunton.

Forecasters said more heavy rain was expected overnight and on Thursday.

No replacement buses

Between 20mm to 39mm (0.8in to 1.5in) fell in 12 hours overnight on already saturated ground.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said crews had been pumping flooded homes while attending more than 50 serious incidents in both counties after more than 310 weather-related calls.

The Grand Western Canal breached some of its banks at Halberton, near Tiverton.

Image caption The Grand Western Canal breached its banks near Tiverton

Some of the residents from 20 houses in the village are being evacuated to the village hall in case the breach causes problems, it is understood.

Rail services have been severely disrupted.

South West Trains and Network Rail said flooding was reported on lines at Honiton. Rain also caused a landslip of five tonnes of earth between there and Axminster, blocking the line between Exeter and Waterloo, they said.

First Great Western said its trains were unable to run between Exeter St Davids and Taunton until further notice, cutting services to London.

Passengers were advised not to start journeys because it was unable to offer replacement road services due to a lack of coaches.

Hundreds of rail passengers were left stranded in Exeter as a result of cancellations, it is understood.

Many London services were expected to be cancelled on Thursday, First managers said.

'Might get stuck'

On Wednesday morning, the villages of Yealmpton and Tamerton Foliot in west Devon were described by residents as "impassable".

Resident Nora Tisdall said her daughter, a teacher, had been 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.

"My daughter cannot get out to travel to work and I'm worried that if she tries another way she might get stuck.

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

Image caption Avril Clark was rescued from her car after it started filling with water

One woman had to be rescued from her car after water levels in a lane reached the vehicle's windows.

Avril Clark said: "The car started filling up with water and I couldn't open the doors."

She said a passer-by had waded over, managed to open a back window and pull her out of the car.

She said: "I was terrified, but I'm safe now. I couldn't have got out on my own."

Frank Newell, from the Environment Agency, said Tamerton Foliot had received the "peak of the impact in the Plymouth area".

He said: "The area was already wet from rainfall we had yesterday, so the compounded effect has resulted in what he have seen this morning."

In south Devon, fish were washed out of their ponds by flood water in Totnes, with some ending up on roads and in nearby gardens, South Hams District Council said.

In Teignmouth, houses were flooded along Bitton Park Road. In Dawlish, a row of basement flats near the seafront was also affected.

In the east of the county, Feniton resident Pamela Moss said flooding in the village caused "absolute chaos".

Image caption Floods have affected railway tracks in Devon

BBC Travel News reported several road closures, including Gdynia Way in Plymouth and Cowley Hill on the A377, due to flooding.

The Totnes to Avonwick road was reported as impassable.

Two large landslips were reported on the B3192 near Teignmouth Golf Club, Devon County Council said.

People should not attempt to drive or walk on flooded roads or fords, it added.

The Environment Agency said flood warnings and 50 flood alerts remained in place across the south west of England.

BBC Weather said further heavy rain was expected on Thursday, which could combine with gales, leading to more possible flooding and surface water problems into Friday.

The Met Office issued warnings for more heavy rain on Thursday.

South Hams District Council has offered residents sandbags if they want them.

Police said they would be opening a Silver Command centre in Plymouth on Thursday to coordinate emergency services' response to the weather.

Plymouth's city centre Christmas lights switch-on ceremony, which was due to be held on Thursday, had been cancelled because of the forecasts, city centre managers said.

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