24/12/2012 08:37 GMT | Updated 24/12/2012 10:15 GMT

Flooding Fears For Christmas As Downpours Across UK, Train, Road Disruptions (PICTURES)

Christmas preparations will be on hold for thousands of people up and down the UK as they brace themselves against the possibility of further flooding.

A woman was said to be "lucky" to be alive after she was swept from the roof of her 4x4 at the height of the floods in the West Country over the weekend.

Vanessa Glover managed to cling to an overhanging branch as the River Taw burst its banks in Umberleigh, North Devon, on Saturday evening.


A car drives through the receding flood water in the centre of the Devonshire town of Braunton that was flooded

Paul Glover told the BBC he feared the worst for his wife.

"I never thought I'd see her again," he said.

"(She's got) a few bumps and bruises... (She's) a bit shaken up.

"We're both glad to be alive."

Mrs Glover is now at home recovering after the ordeal, the BBC said.

Hundreds of homes and businesses have been swamped with floodwaters, from the southern-most parts of Cornwall to the Highlands of Scotland as winter rains fall across a land that is saturated to bursting point.

Despite a brief respite from the downpours yesterday, water levels continued to rise as rain washed down off hills to swell already torrential rivers.

And people will be watching nervously as more rain that lashed the South and South West of England overnight gradually moves northwards.

Others will be swapping turkey and presents for mops, buckets and sandbags as they desperately try to clear up and protect their homes from further threats of floods.

Many will be unable to return home, instead spending the festive period with relatives or in temporary accommodation.

There is little let-up on the immediate horizon.

The Environment Agency (EA) still has one severe flood warning - meaning there is "danger to life" - in place for the River Cober at Helston in west Cornwall, a town that has already seen residents evacuated from their homes.

The EA said last night that it was pumping Loe Pool to minimise the impact on water levels upstream at Helston, but that water levels were still rising.

Up to 30mm of rain is expected to fall between midnight and noon, which is expected to further contribute to the possibility of flooding, the EA said.

cafe flooded

A man pours away flood water that had entered a cafe in the centre of the Devonshire town of Braunton that was flooded

The EA currently has 145 flood warnings in place, urging people to take immediate action, across the UK, the majority in the Midlands and the South West, and a further 268 flood alerts.

Scotland has also been badly affected, with floods and high winds battering the east coast over the weekend.

There are currently 23 flood warnings in place across Aberdeenshire, Caithness and Sutherland, Dundee and Angus, Tayside and the Borders, and further outbreaks of rain are expected across the country from lunchtime.

The Met Office has warned that this may add to the risk of further flooding over still saturated ground in some parts, and the public has been advised that it could bring more disruption to travel.

The rain is forecast to gradually clear eastern Scotland in the evening.

Up to 100 properties were vacated as a result of the flooding in Stonehaven, with a rest centre set up at Mackie Academy to keep the victims safe and warm.

The Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse will visit the town today to speak to residents and thank people for the efforts to mitigate and clean up the damage.

A number of routes remain affected by flooding, while services are widely expected to groan under passenger numbers as those who were unable to travel over the weekend try to reschedule their journeys.

CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, First Great Western and First TransPennine Express are all experiencing major delays, according to National Rail, while many services are operating with amended timetables.

In the South West there are no trains running between Bristol Parkway and Swindon because of flooding, while services between London Paddington and Swansea will be diverted, with journey times extended up to 45 minutes.

Trains will not run between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton Parkway until Friday at the earliest, with replacement buses and diverted routes offering passengers some alternatives.

But First Great Western warned that poor road conditions mean that buses will not be able to travel on many routes, and advised passengers not to travel if at all possible.


Flood damaged stock is seen in a newsagents after flood waters entered the shop in the centre of the Devonshire town of Braunton

London Midland is also facing disruption on most of its routes today - this time because of a shortage of train crew - while flooding near Long Eaton means services between Derby and Nottingham are suspended, while a landslip is affecting journeys between Liverpool and Manchester.

But trains between Brighton and London via Gatwick Airport will now run clearly after signalling problems caused by a fire at Preston Park on Friday were fixed.

Network Rail (NR) yesterday said it was working closely with the Environment Agency and its weather service to try and keep things moving where possible.

Robin Gisby, NR's director of network operations, said: "We apologise to passengers who have had their journeys disrupted at this busy time and we are doing all we can to keep things moving.

"However, safety is our priority and where flooding has submerged tracks or damaged structures we cannot allow trains to run.

"Our engineers have been out at vulnerable locations since the rains began and through the night to monitor the situation and we are doing all we can to help operators get passengers to where they want to get to."

To add to travellers' problems, early-morning services in and of Moorgate station in London were affected by a fire alert at Moorgate. Services were able to resume later.

In the Glazebrook area of north west England, a landslip meant disruption. Buses were replacing trains between Warrington Central and Manchester Oxford Road and also between Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Central/Birchwood.

First TransPennine Express services between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly were diverted via Newton-le-Willows and not calling at Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington Central or Birchwood.

East Midlands Trains services to and from Liverpool Lime Street started and terminated at Manchester Oxford Road.

The affected line was not expected to reopen until Friday at the earliest.

Numerous roads were flooded, many of them in areas which were under water only a few weeks ago.

Worcestershire was one of the worst-hit counties. Among roads closed due to the floods were those in Worcester, Bromsgrove and Evesham.

In Devon, motorists in Newton Abbot had to contend with a landslip, while the A377 was affected by flooding.

Other areas where roads were flooded included Kelham and Shelford in Nottinghamshire and Ufton Nervet in Berkshire.

A series of accidents on major routes also hampered those going away for Christmas.

Among motorways where accidents caused jams in the morning rush-hour were the M1 in Hertfordshire, the M27 in Hampshire, the M40 near Gaydon in Warwickshire and another stretch of the M40 in Buckinghamshire.