Death and foreboding in wake of record-high April rainfall


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A man and his dog drowned after his car was hit by a 5ft wall of water as figures confirmed the wettest April on record.

The 52-year-old man was trying to cross a ford near the village of Headley, on the Hampshire Berkshire border, when a flash flood swept his car away. Witnesses said a woman, who was driving, managed to swim to safety but the man was unable to escape.

A total of 31 flood warnings and 173 flood alerts were in place yesterday for much of England and Wales as ground soil struggled to absorb the recent heavy rainfall after what had previously been an unseasonably warm March.

The Met Office last night said an average of 121.8mm of rain had fallen across the UK in the last 30 days, the highest amount since records first began in 1910.

Despite the recent downpours Britain has been struggling with two years of below average rainfall that has led to widespread drought and the recent introduction of a hosepipe ban. Even with the current levels of rain minister have warned that more is needed to fill the country's reservoirs enough to last the summer.

For residents of Tewkesbury the prospect of further downfalls provides little comfort. Devastated by flooding five years ago, they were on tenterhooks after the Avon and Severn rivers broke their banks and began closing in. Three people died and thousands had to be evacuated in 2007 with many residents were fearful that the same fate could befall the town.

April Wallace, landlady at Ye Olde Black Bear pub, said: "We're just holding our breath and keeping our fingers crossed."

The Environmental Agency is on site, but councillors said it was too soon to know whether any further downpours would cause widespread flooding. Elsewhere flood warnings were put in place for rivers across central England, the southwest and the Welsh Marches. Every river in Somerset is on flood alert as water approaches parts of Taunton.