Floods fear as more rain forecast in 'wettest April'

 

Parts of England and Wales were braced for more heavy rain and
potential flooding after a weekend of storms left one person dead.

A man and a dog died when the car they were travelling in became completely submerged in "5ft of fast-flowing water" as it drove across a flooded ford in Hampshire.

And with up to 20mm to 30mm (0.8in to 1.2in) of rain forecast for southern England tonight, the Environment Agency is on "high alert" for flooding amid fears already-saturated river catchments will struggle to cope with more downpours.

This month is already the wettest April across the UK in records dating back a century to 1910, according to provisional figures from the Met Office.

The figures up to April 29 showed an average of 121.8 mm had fallen (4.8 inches) so far this month, almost double the long term average for April of 69.6mm (2.7 inches) and beating the previous record of 120.3mm (4.7 inches) set in 2000.

There are 36 flood warnings in place, including 20 in the South West and a handful each in the Midlands, North East and East Anglia. There were also more than 150 less serious flood alerts.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said they remained on high alert for flooding into Tuesday across southern England but particularly in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

"After a very wet weekend conditions have generally improved today, but further rain forecast for tonight means that there is still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales.

"River flows are high after this weekend's rainfall and we are keeping a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding," she said.

Over the weekend downpours and winds of up to 70mph in south-west England and Wales brought down trees, left thousands of homes without power and disrupted rail services, while low-lying fields and some roads were submerged.

The Environment Agency said only 20 properties had been flooded across the country, while thousands were protected by flood defences, including 600 homes in Taunton and 25,000 properties along the River Don through Doncaster and Bentley.

Unfinished flood defences in Upton upon Severn which were shored up over the weekend kept water out of the town and Tewkesbury suffered some localised flooding, but nothing unusual for the area.

However, the bad weather claimed its first casualty today when a man from the Middlesex area died in his car in Compton Wood, Hampshire, after the vehicle became "completely submerged".

His 54-year-old wife was able to escape from the car, but the man had to be recovered from it and was pronounced dead at the scene. The dog also died in the incident, according to fire crews who attended.

Inspector Jon Snook, from Hampshire police's roads policing unit, said: "We believe the car drove into the ford from the Hampshire side where it appears as though it was swept downstream and became submerged.

"On arrival, we co-ordinated a rescue operation with the fire service to try and free the man. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We know that the ford was flooded and we are now conducting an investigation to establish the exact circumstances of this incident and will be preparing a file for the coroner."

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it had attended seven separate incidents across Devon and Somerset in the past two days in which vehicles had become stuck in floodwater.

The fire service warned of the possibility of heavy, localised downpours as people were driving to work tomorrow morning, and urged drivers to be aware of possible flooding and not to risk their lives by driving through any flood water.

Elsewhere, Badminton horse trials were cancelled as the ground was "totally waterlogged and partially flooded" and with more rain coming, organisers said there was no chance of the course drying out before the event began on Thursday.

In Somerset, Taunton Deane Cricket Club was submerged under water, in Wiltshire fallen trees caused dozens of incidents and two roads had to be closed due to flooding, and in Devon, the Torquay-based attraction Living Coasts was closed because of the weather.

Despite the heavy rain, swathes of England are still in a state of drought, with warnings that the downpours were not enough to counteract the effects of two unusually dry winters.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Following two dry winters and record low levels of rainfall, water reserves are still under pressure in many parts of the UK.

"While we welcome the rain we have received recently, we cannot be complacent and still need everyone to save water where they can."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions