Drivers rescued and homes evacuated as torrential rain sparks floods in west


People have been evacuated from homes and rescued from cars trapped in floods after widespread heavy rain struck England and Wales.

Devon and Somerset were amongst the worst-hit areas, while the M4 at Bridgend in South Wales was closed after an accident.

In Somerset, Cheddar Gorge was closed to traffic after rain washed "rocks and debris"  into it.

People were forced to flee homes in Kentisbury, near Barnstaple, and other properties have been flooded in Combe Martin on nearby Exmoor, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

The Environment Agency has issued a flood warning for people to take "immediate action" on the rivers Taw and Exe in mid-Devon, and three others in Somerset and Wiltshire.

Further flood warnings are in place on the River Wye in Herefordshire and Riseley Brook in Bedfordshire.

The A399 at Combe Martin in Devon has been closed following a landslide reported at 10.35am on Sunday, with a police spokesman saying part of the carriageway had collapsed.

The A361 was also closed for several hours at Landkey near Barnstaple, where the river burst its banks, and mudslides were reported at Muddiford, north of Barnstaple, the force said.

A woman was rescued when her car became stuck in 2ft of floodwater in the village of Brayford, on the south west edge of Exmoor.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "Throughout the day police, the fire service and all agencies have been working hard to deal with incidents of flooding due to high levels of rainfall.

"While new calls from the public have reduced and water has begun to recede in some areas, agencies are currently monitoring the situation as we go into the evening, with flood warnings on many locations remaining in place.

"Further rainfall is predicted and water run-off from high ground may affect roads and properties. All emergency services and partner agencies remain on alert.

"The public is urged to only travel for essential journeys and only then with extreme caution. If anyone has to travel they should take care while driving in the area due to large amounts of surface water and debris, and they are urged to slow down.

"We would also like to remind people not to drive through floodwater and avoid exposed coasts during storm conditions."

The M4 motorway was closed near Bridgend after an accident in difficult conditions, South Wales Police said.

It happened on the westbound carriageway between junctions 35 and 36 but there were no reported injuries. The road later partially reopened.

Train services in Wales were also hit.

Roads were also closed by flooding in Aylesbury Vale in Buckinghamshire.