Flooding Hits Welsh City As Woman Found Dead

Emergency services have been evacuating residents after 500 people were urged to leave their homes in North Wales as a river burst past flood defences.

In the small city of St Asaph, the River Elwy reached a record high of 14ft 3in (4.35m), making it more than 3ft (1m) deeper than its previous record of 11ft 4in (3.47m) in November 2009.

Residents say they do not remember the area flooding so badly since the 1960s. Some have used canoes to salvage as many possessions as they could carry.

Police have said the body of an elderly woman was recovered from a flooded property in the city, though there are no suspicious circumstances and the death is currently being treated as unexplained.

Since last Wednesday, around 900 people in England and Wales have fled their water-logged homes after heavy rain left many properties uninhabitable and also caused road and rail chaos.

The torrential downpours spread overnight from the South West to North Wales and northern England, with the Environment Agency issuing about 170 flood warnings and 190 flood alerts across the UK.

There are also two severe flood warnings - meaning a potential danger to life - for the River Elwy in St Asaph and at the A55 to Rhuddlan.

Resident Vincent Jones was asked to leave his home in the early hours of the morning. He said: "I had a knock at 12.30am to say there was an imminent flood, and then at 4.30am we were told to leave.

"When I left, within an hour the water had engulfed us. I put some personal possessions upstairs and made sure we took the children to safety. My sister-in-law on the other side of St Asaph has taken the kids in.

"I'm absolutely devastated. I don't have insurance. It doesn't bear thinking about at the minute. My kids are safe, we’ll just have to plod on and sort it out one way or another."

Rising groundwater levels are also threatening to leave homes in Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset, under water.

On the roads, there was disruption for thousands of drivers, while train services were subject to hold-ups in the West Country. The North East also experienced rail problems, with buses having to replace trains on some routes.

The continued flood risk comes after claims hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills would be covered.

Up to 200,000 high-risk properties are at risk of being priced out of affordable cover when a deal struck in 2000 between the then Labour government and insurers ends next summer.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) had claimed that talks about a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at "crisis point".

The Government has been in discussions for two years but as yet an agreement has not been reached.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I'm sure we will do a deal. We need to take a tough approach frankly and it's important insurance companies do what they are meant to, which is provide insurance to households and we are going to make sure that happens."

Mr Cameron was speaking after he met householders in the village of Buckfastleigh, Devon, which was struck by flash flooding at the weekend.

He said: "It is obviously very traumatic when communities are hit by flooding like this but what I found are people are incredibly steadfast and have behaved incredibly bravely at handling the flood and now we need to help them with the recovery.

"We have to make sure their insurance pays out, make sure the Environment Agency puts in place good flood defences, make sure there are better warning schemes."

Graeme Trudgill from the British Insurance Brokers' Association said the solution could lie in insurers themselves being insured.

"We're looking at a re-insurance solution to provide insurance for the insurance companies. We're confident that next year there will be some broker solutions in place."

Flood levels are continuing to rise in the worst hit areas across the UK despite the forecast of drier spells.

Sky's weather producer Joanna Robinson said: "After the recent wet spell, it’s much drier now and in fact there'll be little rain over the next few days.

"The weather may have improved, but there'll be an on-going risk of flooding as the recent rain works its way through the river systems.

"Large slow responding rivers like the Thames, Trent and Severn have yet to peak in some places, but they should over the next 48 hours."

Robinson added: "High ground water levels will be an issue in places too, particularly in Dorset. The next few days look mostly dry, apart from some coastal showers, but it'll turn much colder with an increasing risk of ice due to overnight frosts."

Across the UK, three people have died in the flooding and around 900 homes have been evacuated following a weekend of almost non-stop rain.

There is still a risk of flooding, as the heavy rain in northern England and Wales moves southwards. But the wind and rain are expected to ease over the next few days which are expected to be drier, with freezing temperatures taking hold of the UK instead.

The EA remains particularly concerned about the River Thames, Trent and the Severn, as well as the Northamptonshire area.