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Emergency aid planned for Welsh flood victims: Families still unable to return to homes after torrential rain

AREAS of Wales devastated by two days of torrential rain will be able to apply for emergency aid, Sir Wyn Roberts, the Minister of State at the Welsh Office, said yesterday.

The assistance comes from the Bellwin scheme which can be activated for emergency relief after exceptional storm or flood damage. Local authorities can claim help over a specified threshold for emergency repairs.

Sir Wyn also gave an undertaking that the Government would provide whatever cash assistance was necessary for action at Llandudno general hospital, which was badly hit by the floods.

Meanwhile, areas badly affected by the weather were beginning to get back to normal as forecasters at last promised a relief from heavy rain.

But hundreds of families at Llandudno were still unable to return to their flooded homes. A police spokesman said that mopping up was expected to take at least two more days.

Fresh storms broke over Wales, the West Country and Ireland on Saturday leaving at least four dead.

In Cornwall and Devon, high tides and heavy rain were exacerbated by strong winds.

An elderly woman died at a north Devon beauty spot when she fell into the flooded East Lyn river while walking with her husband and was swept downstream. In a boating accident in the Camel estuary, north Cornwall, one person died and another was missing. Also in Cornwall, coastguards said Russell Cock, 47, a windsurfer died after getting into difficulties off Hayle Towans.

At Bideford, north Devon, people were evacuated from their homes as a dam holding back floodwater overflowed.

Storms also lashed the eastern coast of Ireland. A 14-year-old boy drowned after he fell into a flooded drain at Baldoyle, Co Dublin.

Two teenage boys were missing, feared drowned, after their car crashed into a flooded river at Duleek, Co Louth.

The National Rivers Authority has launched a major investigation into the West Country floods after northern Devon and Cornwall registered up to six- and-a-half inches of rain in a 30- hour period over the weekend.

Some rain stations in the region have already had three times their average for the whole of June and Bideford in north Devon, and Bude and Camelford in north Cornwall were the worst hit.

'It is a key part of the NRA's flood defence role to review significant flooding incidents, and we will be working flat out to ensure that conclusions can be drawn and acted upon,' Bob Hatton, the chief engineer of the NRA, said.