Wales floods: One person found dead at St Asaph

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Media captionThe RNLI filmed a rescue inside a block of flats in St Asaph

An elderly woman has been found dead in her home by rescue crews drafted in to move hundreds from areas wrecked by floods in north Wales.

The discovery was made at a flooded property in St Asaph, where around 500 homes have been affected.

Emergency services have been working since the early hours after the river Elwy burst its banks.

Ruthin has also been hit and parts of Rhuddlan are being evacuated amid fears the river Clwyd may burst its banks.

Image caption A landslip closed the A548 between Llanrwst and Llangernyw in Conwy county

Officers said the death of the woman - discovered during house-to-house check calls by rescuers - was not thought to be suspicious and an investigation is under way.

In some area of St Asaph, a tiny city with a population of 3,400, water levels reached up to seven feet.

Mother-of-two Helen Ross, 37, who works at a local school in St Asaph, described how in her particular case water levels reached more than a foot above her floorboards, wrecking her living and dining rooms and kitchen.

"I have lived here nine years and I never seen the river cause flooding like this," she said.

"My husband phoned me at 7am to say parts of the city were being evacuated. I looked out of the window and there was water over the road and then, within an hour, it was in the house."

Wiping away tears she added: "We've lost everything downstairs. It's heartbreaking."

The leisure centre at St Asaph was transformed into an evacuation centre where about 150 people gathered for shelter including people with babies.

Cafe assistant Heidi Chaplin, 31, said the atmosphere was mixed but most people were "a bit down".

"Seven feet of water came in at some places and people were boat-lifted out of their windows with babies crying," she said. "It was terrible for them, really sad."

Amid the heartbreak, there was anger on the Glasdir estate built in nearby Ruthin three years ago where residents said they were given assurances the chance of flooding was rare.

Resident Phil Jones said: "We have documentation saying that the chance of flooding actually occurring was one in a 1,000 years.

"Of course the more serious question is what happens in terms of not just next year but the next few months?"

Ruthin resident Catrin Williams added: "The land has always been marshy so I don't know why they built a housing estate there.

"I have friends who live there and they have suffered damage to their house."

On Tuesday evening police said emergency services were continuing to check properties in St Asaph in case any vulnerable people remain in homes in flooded areas.

Officers have also been advised people not to return to their property until they have been told it is safe.

Rest shelters have been set up by Red Cross volunteers for those unable to stay with relatives overnight.

Meanwhile, severe flood warnings - categorised as a danger to life - are still in place in two stretches of the river Elwy.

Throughout the day police, firefighters, paramedics, road agencies and the RNLI joined forces to respond to the emergency in the counties of Denbighshire and Conwy.

Supt Peter Newton of North Wales Police, speaking on behalf of the combined emergency services operation, said rescuers had to prioritise calls due to the number of pleas for help.

Ruthin, where up to 400 homes were under threat, has also been badly affected.

Properties in Llanfair Talhaiarn, Llansannan and Eglwys Bach have also been flooded while Abergele and Llangernyw are also threatened.

Forecasters say the rain is expected to subside with the weather turning colder over the next few days, but there is still a risk of water flowing down from higher ground.

Meanwhile, several major and minor roads across the area are closed and people are advised to drive only if their journey is essential.

As well as the main areas where properties have been flooded, routes affected include the A4086 Pen-y-Pass, Llanberis; A5 Corwen, and A548 Llanrwst to Abergele as well the A525 at Bangor on Dee, near Wrexham, and the A544 in Llansannan, Conwy.

The slip road on the A55 at St Asaph is closed westbound.

Other roads are passable with care and motorists are asked to heed warnings. Details are available via the Traffic Wales website.

Train services are suspended between Holyhead and Bangor due to flooded tracks at Gaerwen on Anglesey.

No trains will run either between Llanrwst and Blaenau Ffestiniog until further notice.

Details of other rail disruptions are available on the National Rail Enquiries website.

Some schools in Conwy and Denbighshire have also been closed.

A North Wales Police spokesperson said: "Police will also be providing extra patrols in areas where people are unable to return to their homes and are urging anyone concerned for vulnerable family or friends, who live in affected areas and who they haven't been able to contact to ring 101."

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