25/11/2012 07:32 GMT | Updated 25/11/2012 12:26 GMT

UK Weather: Prime Minister David Cameron Promises Help After 'Shocking' Floods

Prime Minister David Cameron today told of his shock at the flooding which has hit the South West and promised to "ensure everything is being done to help" after a woman died in the chaos.

The woman became the second victim to die as a result of this week's horrendous weather.

She was killed in Western Way, Exeter, last night when she was trapped under a fallen spruce tree which injured two others.

On Thursday a man died when his car became wedged under a bridge near to a ford at Rectory Fields, in Chew Stoke, Somerset.

People were forced to flee their homes last night as flood water and torrential rain caused "serious threats to life" in villages in Cornwall.

Today, Mr Cameron said on Twitter: "Shocking scenes of flooding in Cornwall and around the country.

"Govt will help ensure everything is being done to help."


A vehicle manages to get across flooded Somerset Levels as heavy rain continues to fall on already drenched fields

He made the comment as the weather appeared to improve but as the Environment Agency continued to issue warnings.

One severe flood warning - the highest alert possible - existed for River Cober at Helston including St Johns Road, St Johns Close, Coronation Park and Loe Pool.

River levels are rising and imminently expected to flood out into the lower areas of the Cornwall town causing significant hazard, the agency said.

It also issued 221 flood warnings and 267 less serious flood alerts.

Mr Cameron made the promise to help as one emergency worker hit out at people for not using their common sense in the perilous conditions.

Nathan Hudson, general manager of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), appealed for members of the public to stop endangering their and rescue workers' lives.

"No-one can have missed the heavy rain and strong winds that battered the region overnight," Mr Hudson said.

"However, despite this, we were called out to several incidents where cars have tried to pass through flooded roads, fords, and small rivers and got stuck.

"The net effect is that the occupants have become trapped in their vehicles and the emergency services have had to risk difficult and often dangerous conditions in the middle of the night to come and rescue them.

"It is quite simple: driving through flood water is inherently dangerous.

"When you start off you simply have no idea how deep it will be, whether there will be hidden obstacles such as raised man hole covers that could damage your car.

"Flood water can also be very fast moving and we have seen incidences where the levels of water rise very quickly, which can catch out even the most experienced drivers.


Falling Tree Kills Woman And Injures Two As Floods And High Winds Batter South West

"People who attempt to pass through flooded roads are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of the emergency services staff who have to rescue them.

"A little bit of common sense from the public will ensure that no one's life is put in any unnecessary danger.

"Perhaps surprisingly, we have had to deal with a remarkable number of stuck 4x4s.

"Just because your vehicle has four wheel drive, does not make it amphibious. They too can become stuck in deep flood water.

"We would urge people to not try and get across flood water and instead take a short detour, rather than become trapped in their cars and have to be rescued."

Around 40 houses and a caravan park containing 60 caravans have been flooded in Kempsey, Worcestershire, WMAS said.

Thirty members of the local community were evacuated to a nearby community centre.

Cambridgeshire Police said the death of a 70-year-old man whose car plunged into a river near Earith, on Saturday night, had nothing to do with the weather.


Double yellow lines and no waiting signs did not stop this fisherman taking advantage of the rising floodwater from the River Ouse in York

"This particular accident could have happened at any time of year," a force spokesman said.

The woman who was killed by the tree was believed to be just 21 and had been living in a small tent sheltered against the wall at the roadside when the tree fell on it.

Emergency services, rescue crews and EA bosses worked throughout the night to help stricken communities and spread messages of safety to people following four days of uninterrupted rainfall.

More than 230 staff from Cornwall Council were out working across the county to help those hit by severe weather and flooding, and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has taken more than 350 calls since yesterday morning, the council said.

Fire and rescue pumps were sent to Perranporth to help prevent further flooding after the river broke its banks.

The village of Millbrook was reportedly under 5ft of water and BBC reporter Alison Johns, who lives in the village, said 40 houses were evacuated last night.

She said told the BBC that torrents of muddy water had been cascading down the road all yesterday afternoon, into the village and people's homes.

Ms Johns said the village's sluice gates had been opened and water was transferred into a gulley, allowing water levels to subside.

The RNLI's South West flood rescue team was last night called to assist the emergency services in Exeter, and was put on standby to respond to Helston and Polperro.

National Rail said the severe weather had caused a number of disruptions to services across the region.

Trains were cancelled between Exeter St Davids and Yeovil Junction because of a landslip at Honiton and flooding near Axminster in Devon, and replacement buses were cancelled because of severe flooding on local roads.

The route is expected to reopen tomorrow, subject to no further damage.

A landslip near Dawlish has also caused delays of up to an hour on rail services between Newton Abbot and Exeter St Davids, National Rail said.

Ten people were evacuated from the tiny community of Portholland near Mevagissey overnight after a landslip towards the east of the coastal village.

Devon and Cornwall Police said part of the cliff behind five houses had given way due to the weather. As a result, 10 people were evacuated and put up overnight in a local hotel.

In Plymouth, Devon, about 60 people were evacuated due to safety concerns in a dozen locations while there were numerous reports of people being stuck in their cars as some motorists attempted to drive through flooded roads.

Residents of a nursing home at Cullompton, Devon, were evacuated as a precaution due to water levels.

Police worked across the county to help people in distress - and even assisted the local wildlife.

Officers rescued a number of young ducks being raised in a caged area on a river in the centre of Dawlish, cutting the cage open with bolt cutters to stop them drowning in the rising water.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue received more than 45 calls to flooding incidents between midnight and 6am. These included cars marooned on roads in flood water and flooded properties.

Seven people were rescued from cars marooned in flood water, the fire service said.

One incident took fire crews more than three hours to rescue three people stuck on the roof of their car which had become marooned in flood water in Preston Bagot.

Officials were alerted to the incident just after 3am and a crew was sent from Leamington. But the flooding was that bad they had to request a boat to help but needed to wait 40 minutes for it.

In another incident, crews were called to three people being trapped in a car under a bridge in Coventry Road, Church Lawford, just before 2.30am. They were rescued by firefighters and treated for hypothermia.

Crews were also called to a man marooned in his car in floodwater in Oak Tree Lane in Sambourne just before 3am. He was rescued 30 minutes later and also treated for hypothermia.

Chris Burton, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said up to 50mm of rain had fallen across Devon and Cornwall in the last 24 hours - with more on the way later today.

He said: "In Devon and Cornwall at the moment there are a few showers around, becoming more frequent through the day and merging into a longer spell this afternoon.

"It won't be as heavy as it was last night, but there will probably be another 10mm to 15mm between lunchtime and midnight.

"Cardinham in Cornwall experienced 49mm in the 24 hours to 6am, and generally across Devon and Cornwall it has been the same, between 40mm and 50mm."

Flooding has also closed majors routes in North Yorkshire, police said.

The A66 is closed between the A1 and the A67, and the A174 Whitby to Scarborough road has been partially closed due to a cliff fall at Sandsend near Raithwaite Hall.

Peasholme Gap at Scarborough and Saxton Lane to Main Street in Saxton near Tadcaster have also been closed because of flooding.

West Mercia Police warned members of the public not to drive through standing water after rescuing 20 people from their vehicles overnight.

The force said there had been issues with standing water in the region, particularly in the Kempsey area, where at one point there was up to 10 inches of water covering the A38. There were also issues in Tunbury Wells, a force spokesperson said.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service rescued 28 people overnight and said they were continuing to receive calls from members of the public for advice on flooding.

Emergency services also reported flooding from the River Avon in the historic town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

The water was three feet deep in places but there were signs it was receding as rain stopped.

Chris Harvey, watch manager at the town's fire station, said: "It's the worst flooding I can remember in the town, certainly worse than in 2007 when there were problems."

High Street, St John's Street and some smaller streets were affected.

Tom Hudson, landlord of the Rose and Crown pub just a few yards from the river at Malmesbury, said: "The water is just outside the door.

"It's gone down a lot but I'm trying to get hold of some sandbags because more rain is forecast for later today.

"Houses across the road have been flooded to a depth of three or four feet, with furniture floating around in the rooms.

"I've been here 14 years and there were floods in 2000 and again in 2007, but this is much worse than either of those."

The RAC said they expected a surge in call-outs as further heavy rain is forecast.

Spokesman Simon Williams said: "Heavy persistent rain made yesterday the busiest Saturday we have experienced for a month.

"We saw a 23% increase on the previous Saturday, with our patrols dealing with 1,300 more breakdowns.

"The combined effect of rain and wind early on Sunday morning is making for yet another challenging day with high volumes being experienced in the North East.

"But with another 15mm of rain due to spread in from the south as the day progresses, we are preparing for a surge in call-outs in Devon, Somerset, Wales and the Midlands."

Cleveland Police advised people not to travel "unless absolutely necessary" because of flooding on roads.

The A66 eastbound at Long Newton, the A177 at Sedgefield, Thorpe Thewles, the A689 at Wynyard towards Hartlepool and Low Lane at Thornaby are all closed.

"A number of roads are down to one lane and there is significant standing water on the main arterial routes. On side roads, run-offs are causing problems to traffic," a force spokesman said.

Heavy rain overnight has affected parts of Leicestershire including Charnwood, Blaby and Hinckley and Bosworth, police said.

A number of roads are closed across the region including the A6 at Hathern and in towns and villages including Loughborough, Measham and Rothley, a force spokesman said.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said a number of homes have been affected by flooding in the region.

Homeowners have been helped in Corby, Chacombe, Harpole, Claypole, Raunds and Barton Seagrave.

Two people were rescued from vehicles stranded in floodwater in separate incidents in Towcester and Wymington.

Fire crews have also been pumping out water from culverts and roads to protect properties.

Cameron's comments came two years after flash floods caused havoc and widespread disruption to mid-Cornwall, and resulted in both the Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales embarking on separate visits to the worst-hit towns and villages to pledge their support.

In Lostwithiel today, residents piled sand bags at their doors over fears the River Fowey would again burst its banks this evening, following last night's trouble.

Resident Michael Marks, 79, said there had been improvements in the town in the two years since the pair visited.

He said: "The year 2010 was the worst, and last night was the second real flood.

"I think people were pleased to see them, and Prince Charles has followed up on it. We have flood defences and another is being built on the other side of the river.

"It could have been a lot worse (without their help)."

Stephen Gilbert, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, said the Government needed to act in ensuring insurance companies were able to provide home and business owners with affordable cover.

He said: "Yet again I call on the Government to reach an agreement with insurers that will keep flood insurance available and affordable.

"The last two days should be a wake-up call for a Government that needs to grip this issue and do so quickly. We know that flash flooding is increasing because of climate change and there's now little we can do to stop it, but the Government must act to make sure people aren't left without insurance when the worst does happen."

Autumn Floods