More flooding is forecast for the South-west

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The Independent Online

The South-west was braced for more flash floods, with the Met Office warning residents in Devon and Somerset they could see more than an inch-and-a-half of rain fall in the next 24 hours.

"The potential is there for more incidences of flash flooding," said Barry Gromett, a meteorologist for the Met Office. "It's quite likely that the South-west is going to see some more heavy showers, particularly through this afternoon and tomorrow. These will be isolated pockets of intense rainfall."

From midday yesterday, the Met Office was predicting up to 40mm of rain over 24 hours in some areas of south-west England and south Wales. For much of the rest of the country, however, the forecast was warm and dry.

In Somerset, residents were still clearing up after the floods descended on the county on Thursday evening. In the worst-hit areas, sandbags were handed out and homes were evacuated.

At the peak of the storms, Devon and Somerset Fire Brigade was taking calls "every few seconds" from residents, with more than 350 emergency calls received in just two-and-a-half hours. Andy Newland, a spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire Service, said there were more than 200 reported incidents, with dozens of people forced from their homes by floodwater.

Early estimates suggest at least 20 properties were significantly damaged by the floods, but the Environment Agency said this number was likely to rise.

Residents in Shepton Mallet were infuriated as their homes seriously flooded for the second time in less than two years. Tim Hoddinott, a mortgage adviser, found 18 inches of water in his kitchen on Thursday night when he returned home with his wife and two children. The family will now have to live elsewhere for at least three months whilst repairs are done, and this is not the first time. "We're fed up, this is the second time in 18 months," he said. "This has happened due to years of neglect by the local authorities. They've failed to the job properly. As you look at the street outside, all the debris and muck, it makes you ask is this Somerset or southern India?"

In Crewkerne, south Somerset, there were similar scenes of damage. One couple had only moved into their new home the day before the floods hit, and were still in shock. Paul Farnborough and Charlotte Strickland said the flooding happened suddenly. "At about 7pm there was thunder and lightning, and we started to notice a small puddle outside," said Mr Farnborough. "We didn't really give it much thought. Within five to 10 minutes we were flooded out, it was that quick."

The Sunrise Celebration Festival, at Bearley Farm, near Yeovil, seen by many as a curtain-raiser to Glastonbury, has been called off because of the terrible weather conditions. More than 20,000 revellers were expected to attend the music festival but now all entrances have been closed.

The flood warnings were officially downgraded to "flood watch" yesterday afternoon, but a spokesman for the Environment Agency said this was likely to change if the forecast showers hit already full rivers. "The rivers do remain responsive to heavy rainfall, so we've got to stay aware," said the spokesperson. "It's anticipated that further flood warnings may be issued in areas with fast responding rivers."