Floods chaos as rain lashes South-west

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL PEOPLE were rescued yesterday after three inches of rain fell across the South-west in 24 hours.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency, which issued red warnings for six rivers in the region, said: "Across the country the ground is very saturated. Our staff are out in the field monitoring the situation. We are waiting to see what rainfall we get over the next day or two."

In Taunton, Somerset, a major alert was declared yesterday morning, although the prospect of widespread flooding later receded after the Tone's water level peaked without bursting its banks. Large tracts of farmland were still under water in Devon where the Exe burst its banks although the fire brigade said it later scaled down its rescue operation.

An elderly woman was reported to have spent the night upstairs in her flooded cottage because she did not want to bother the emergency services. The woman, from Iron Acton, near Bristol, waited until morning before calling the fire brigade. A family of four were towed to safety after they were trapped in their car on a flooded road in Bristol.

Red warnings were in force yesterday on the upper Taw and lower Torridge in north Devon; the upper and lower Tone in Somerset; the Chew, south of Bristol; and the upper Bristol Avon, south Wiltshire.

Weather forecasters said the West Country could expect some respite over the next few days, as rain moved eastwards.