Flood Victims Rescued As More Rain Forecast

Flood victims are facing a festive washout with many being forced out of their homes - and forecasters are predicting more rain is on the way.

Large parts of the UK were lashed with high winds and rain over the weekend, causing widespread flooding.

Southwest England, Wales and northeast Scotland were worst affected, although the Midlands is also on high alert as flooding threatens to ruin Christmas for many.

Christmas preparations have been put on hold as people survey the damage to their homes, while businesses and communities across the country are put on alert with hundreds of flood warnings remaining in place .

Emergency services helped several people who had been swept away in their cars and attended landslides brought down by the torrential rain.

In Umberleigh, near Barnstaple in Devon, a woman was rescued in an "heroic" effort by a lifeboat team after she clung on to the branches of a tree for 50 minutes.

She was spotted by a police helicopter using thermal imaging equipment after she was swept away from her car.

Another woman also had a lucky escape after being swept away in her car in Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan. She was saved from the vehicle just moments before her car was washed under the bridge and filled with water.

Homes in the northeast of Scotland were also evacuated after being hit by significant flooding as heavy rain across the country resulted in road closures in Aberdeenshire and Tayside.

Dozens of people were evacuated from up to 100 properties in Stonehaven, and Grampian Police said some were expected to be out of their homes for up to 24 hours.

Torrential rain brought down tonnes of mud and rock into the village of Ystalyfera, near Swansea, overnight. Terraced houses were also evacuated in Pontypridd when a 20ft wall collapsed.

RNLI flood rescue teams across Devon and Cornwall have been helping people and animals to safety using in-shore lifeboats while fire crews use high volume pumps to clear water away from properties.

Families in Braunton, North Devon, who were effectively cut off after the River Caen twice burst its banks, had to place sandbags outside their homes and businesses as they prepared for more rain.

The flooding overwhelmed a new £1.2m flood defence scheme, wiping out Christmas plans for many of the residents.

Diane Cohen, 63, runs the flood hit Mariners Arms pub on South Street with her husband.

She said: "If you go into the middle of the village all you can see is people with their belongings out on the pavements, mopping up and cleaning up behind them. It's like a disaster zone."

And flooding problems in Devon spread across the county to the village of Stoke Canon, near Exeter, after the River Exe also burst its banks.

The Environment Agency said 20 properties have been flooded and people from 25 homes were being moved to safety by emergency services.

There was also widespread travel disruption as water engulfed train lines near Exeter, and dozens of minor roads flooded as swathes of countryside remain under water.

Flooding minister Richard Benyon said: "It's terrible to have your home or business flooded at any time of year, but for the families affected it's especially distressing for it to happen during the Christmas season."

Despite a brief respite in the torrential downpours on Sunday, more rain fell overnight.

Residents unable to return to their homes face spending the festive period in temporary accommodation or with relatives.