Floods stall Christmas getaway

Andover Advertiser: A young Christmas shopper looks at flood water in York city centre as heavy rain continues to cause problems across the UK A young Christmas shopper looks at flood water in York city centre as heavy rain continues to cause problems across the UK

Rail passengers and motorists are enduring further misery as the great Christmas getaway is stalled by continued wet weather, while homes and businesses have been flooded.

Four severe flood warnings - which means there is a danger to life - have been issued for south-west England as large parts of the UK continue to be battered by heavy rain.

The town of Braunton in north Devon has been effectively cut off, with homes and shops under water after the River Caen burst its banks. Surface water began to build as rain fell overnight and residents in the town woke to find Caen Street and the A361 under water.

Meanwhile, First Great Western has advised rail passengers whose travel is not essential to avoid any journeys west of Taunton in Somerset because of flooding and landslips.

The train operator said road vehicles are being used to transport passengers between Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth, but even that service is being hampered by flooded roads.

The Highways Agency said there are a handful of flooding incidents but they are not causing delays on the motorway network.

The Environment Agency (EA) issued two severe flood warnings for Braunton, and one each for Heston and Lostwithiel, both in Cornwall. The agency has also issued 108 flood warnings - where flooding is expected - across the whole of England and Wales, and 313 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible.

In Scotland, there are 16 flood warnings in place which mean flooding is expected, mainly in Perthshire. A total of 15 less-serious flood alerts have been issued.

An EA spokesman said there is a heightened flood risk across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West and East Sussex, south Wales, Ceredigion, Gwynedd and North Yorkshire.

Paul Mustow, head of flood incident management at the EA, said: "With four severe flood warnings in force and further rain forecast, it is vital that communities remain flood aware."

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