Chard flooding: People rescued and homes damaged

  • Published
Media caption,

Raging river water devastates homes in Somerset

"Terrifying" flash-flooding has damaged several homes and properties after heavy rainfall on Monday evening.

Lilias Ahmeira said "raging" river water up to 4ft (1.2m) high entered her house near Chard in Somerset.

Outside her home the road has been torn up, with tarmac and rubble piled high.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it received about 80 calls and two people had to be rescued by boat after their car got stuck on a flooded road.

Ms Almeira described the scenes that unfolded as the flooding started at 16:30 BST.

Image source, Lilias Ahmeira
Image caption,
Fast-flowing water flooded Lilias Ahmeira's house on the outskirts of Chard on Monday
Image source, Lilias Ahmeira
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The road outside Ms Ahmeira's home has been severely damaged by the water

She told BBC Radio Somerset: "We put sandbags either side of the front door hoping it would hold the torrent of water. It was terrifying. It's just horrific.

"There are huge gouges out of the road. We rang 999 but the emergency services couldn't get to us.

"We just didn't expect this to happen. I bought a house on a hill not to get flooded but there was raging river water."

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The fire service said calls came in at about 18:30 BST on Monday and continued until around 02:00 on Tuesday

She added: "We have no road so we can't get in or out. There is tarmac and rubble piled up in mangled messes that I can't believe.

"The furniture is wet and we've taken the carpets and rugs out. It's devastation.

"The floors are all up, there's soggy carpet, but we're safe."

Isobel Loader, from Forton, said she had not realised how much the water had risen and was alerted by a neighbour.

"We were quietly watching television and suddenly the neighbours came in and said 'do you realise what's going on' and there was water right up to our steps at the back and all in the garage in the front," she said.

Image caption,
Roads were cut-off by fast-flowing water

A flood warning remains in place on the River Isle from Chard Reservoir to Hambridge and drivers should be cautious as some local roads remain impassable, Somerset County Council said.

Mayor of Chard Jason Baker described the flooding as "quite phenomenal".

He added: "It wasn't what we were expecting, it was far far worse. I haven't known it like this for 15-odd years."

Image source, Stuart Mackie
Image caption,
Floodwater cascaded into several homes, including that of Stuart Mackie, who lives between Chard and Axminster

Stuart Mackie, 35, who lives near Axminster, said initially he thought a tap had been left on after hearing a dripping sound.

"We then looked out of the window and all we could see was this huge torrent of water coming down the hill," he said.

"We rushed and saw the water pouring into the house and rescued what we could off of the floor.

"It was a flash flood that came from nowhere really. It was surprising because we hardly had any rain all day, it was relatively dry.

The bottom floor of his home has been flooded as the water was knee deep, he added.

"We were out with brooms to get the water out last night so we've got the worst of it out and we've left it now for insurers to take a look."

The water has since receded to about ankle deep in his cottage, he said.

Image source, Stuart Mackie
Image caption,
Mr Mackie said his house "became part of the river" as flood water rose

The council said its teams worked overnight to deal with the damage.

Jim Everard, the chairman of Winsham Parish Council, said he had been part of a team that tried to prevent flooding in his area.

"There was a team of about 20 or 30 villagers for two or three hours, sandbagging, putting up scaffold boards, using brooms, doing anything we could do to stop the water getting in," he said.

Image caption,
Lilias Ahmeira said the "raging" water poured into her home, which is on top of a hill
Image source, Roger Harris
Image caption,
Floodwater has wrecked roads in Whitestaunton, near Chard

John Woodman, Somerset County Council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Teams from the emergency services, Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council - not to mention volunteers and the community - did an incredible job and we will now assess the damage and make any repairs as quickly as we can."

The council said all main routes are now clear of flooding.

A help and information centre has been set up for anyone affected at Chard's Guildhall.

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