Rescuers in boats reach villagers trapped for a week by floods

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The Independent Online

Emergency services have rescued 100 people by boat after floods trapped them in a Somerset village for more than a week.

Roads into Muchelney, near Langport, have been flooded since heavy rain fell last Wednesday, cutting off the village.

The River Parrett burst its banks but although most residents homes were not flooded, they were concerned about a lack of supplies.

Tina Winter, whose home is higher up in the centre of the village, told the BBC: "It hasn't changed at all (since the area first flooded last week), there is no access into or out of the village. We are completely stranded."

Elizabeth Nightingale, who found water a foot deep in her 300-year-old house, said: "We are staying put because we have animals."

With the only access to the village by boat, rescuers finally evacuated Muchelney yesterday.

Although the torrential rains are set to ease, the Environment Agency said that 173 flood warnings and 184 flood alerts were still in effect across England and Wales.

Sub-zero temperatures and northerly winds were forecast for Yorkshire, where the River Ouse in York peaked at 4.5m, flooding streets and businesses. Northern Scotland is expected to bear the brunt of the wintry showers, with night-time temperatures plunging to -15C by the weekend. Further heavy showers are expected to hit Britain early next week, hindering the flood clean-up effort.

A severe "danger to life" warning remained in place for St Asaph, in Denbighshire, north Wales, the scene of the greatest destruction.

At Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron praised the emergency services who have performed "extraordinary feats to rescue people" from "floods of biblical scenes" at St Asaph, where more than 500 people were evacuated.

But the Prime Minister disputed a claim by Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane that the Government was planning to cut flood defence spending by 30 per cent.

Wintry showers are expected to heap more misery on waterlogged towns and villages today as hundreds of people are forced to stay in temporary shelters after days of flooding.