Flood fears ease - but more rain is on the way

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The Independent Online

Fears of floods crippling Britain have eased overnight despite concerns rain could see water levels continue to rise.

A total of five people have died in accidents related to the rains and the North East is currently the region most seriously hit by the storms.

Flash floods have also hit parts of Yorkshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Forecasters have warned the rain will continue to fall in parts of Britain, especially the east coast, but said it will be random showers rather than the persistent rain of recent days.

More than 400 people were evacuated from their homes in Morpeth, Northumberland, after the town was "virtually cut off" yesterday when the River Wansbeck burst its banks causing the worst flooding since the 1960s.

The situation was so serious an RAF helicopter was called in to help pluck several stranded residents to safety.

But Northumberland County Council member Andrew Tebbutt said the situation has "eased considerably" overnight.

At the height of the floods, Morpeth High Street was under 2ft of water.

Residents spent the night at two rescue centres located in the north and the south of the town.

Councillor Tebbutt, who is jointly in charge of emergency planning, said: "The situation has eased overnight considerably.

"Fortunately it is not raining at the moment as it did most of the night.

"If we get torrential rain again like we did yesterday then it will re-flood very quickly, the ground is saturated."

He said around 1,000 homes were affected by the flooding and around 400 people were evacuated.

"There were a considerable number of people who self-evacuated so the number will be higher," he added.

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said that while Britain was over the worst of the current storms, there would be more rain on the east coast today.

Forecaster Tom Tobler said: "There will be more rain today, but it will be showers rather than the persistent rain of the last few days.

"It will be mostly down the east side of the UK. In some places there will be heavy bursts of rain."

A 17-year-old girl, who died on Friday when the 4x4 she was in plunged into floodwater in a remote area of forestry in Powys, mid Wales, was from the Thamesmead area of south London, police said. Her family asked that her details were not released at this time.

A 27-year-old man died when a muddy trench he was working in collapsed at a building site in Stroud yesterday, a spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said.

The man, from Cheltenham, was declared dead at the scene.

On Friday a man and a woman - named locally as Barry Rowe and Rebecca Hoynes - died when their vehicle collided with a tree.

The accident happened in Embankment Road, Plymouth, in heavy rain.

It also emerged a 42-year-old Sheffield man was killed when the Kawasaki motorbike he was riding hit a tree branch on the A66 near Scotch Corner on Friday afternoon.

At the height of yesterday's heavy rain, West Midlands Fire Service was dealing with 20 incidents, including the flooding of more than a dozen homes in the Halesowen area.

A similar number of properties were also inundated in Frankley, Birmingham, and a mini-tornado was reported to have been seen in the Northfield area of the city.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to evacuate a number of patients from a flooded private brain injury unit in Selly Oak, Birmingham.