Flood alerts issued as heavy rain lashes UK


Motorists were urged to take greater care on Britain's roads today after overnight downpours caused some drivers to abandon their vehicles as public highways flooded.

Bands of heavy rain have moved across England and Wales over the last 24 hours, causing some localised flooding and forcing the Environment Agency to issue dozens of alerts.

Sandbags have been placed at entrances to homes in an effort to avoid a repeat of the damage caused last month when severe downpours caused havoc for residents across the country.

Dozens of flood warnings were put in place by the Environment Agency this morning, mostly in the south-west of England, with heavy rainfall already causing disruption to Britain's transport network.

Devon and Cornwall Police said there had been a number of reports of standing water on roads, creating a risk of drivers aquaplaning and potentially losing control of their vehicles. In some cases, drivers abandoned their cars after becoming stranded in flood water, officers said.

A spokesman said: "There are significant incidents of standing water being reported on the roads, and so we need drivers to take extra care and adjust their braking times accordingly.

"Drivers need to match their speed with the conditions."

Other police staff took to social networking sites to issue safety advice. Community support officer Sarah Giles, from the Topsham area of Exeter, wrote on her Twitter page: "Honestly guys, roads have become rivers lots of surface water some quite deep. Slow down, it's safer, and it's considerate."

In Dorset, police responded to the deluge by telling followers on the constabulary's page: "Don't take chances on the roads in this wet weather - leave extra time to get to your destination and £drivesafely."

The Environment Agency this morning issued more than 60 flood alerts - forecasting possible flooding - 50 of which were in the South West.

Two dozen flood warnings - a more serious alert requiring immediate action - were issued, all in the West Country.

The highest rainfall overnight was on Dartmoor, Devon, with 33mm in 12 hours.

Dozens of schools across the south west of England were also forced to close today.

In most cases, access roads were blocked and deemed impassable, preventing staff and parents from arriving at school.

Twelve schools in Devon were closed and 17 in Somerset, two of the worst-hit counties.

A statement from North Curry C of E Primary School, east of Taunton in Somerset, said: "The village and roads leading in are flooded and only a couple of staff members can get in.

"Also, parents cannot get the children through the floods. It is treacherous and the rain shows no sign of easing."