Freak weather sees fire crews rescue trapped residents

PUBLISHED: 10:25 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:54 10 June 2010

FREAK weather conditions last night, which saw 75 per cent of the average monthly rainfall fall in just 12 hours, has caused chaos, stranding people throughout East Devon.

FREAK weather conditions last night, which saw 75 per cent of the average monthly rainfall fall in just 12 hours, has caused chaos, stranding people throughout East Devon.

With the County Council urgently setting up evacuations centres throughout the district, Exmouth, Budleigh and Topsham Fire Crews worked tirelessly through the night to save stranded residents.

Exmouth's John Chalk said his crews had been out since 1am through to 9.30 am this morning.

He said: "We have seen bad flooding before but nothing like this."

Exmouth Fire Crews rescued an elderly man who was suffering chest pains in Tipton St John - along with Otter St Mary, some parts under two feet of water.

The man's house was surrounded and cut off by two feet of swelling flood waters- - the man was promptly taken to the RD&E.

Mr Chalk said that, along with Topsham Fire Crews, they also rescued a man in his 20s who was trapped on the roof of his car, in Frogmore Road, East Budleigh.

"He was standing on the roof," Mr Chalk said. "Completely cut off. The car was starting to float away so we had to move quickly."

They cut a hole in the hedge, in a field adjacent to the car, and used a short extension ladder to bridge the gap onto the car roof to save him."

And in another incident crews saved a 94-year-old man, who lived on the main road next to the Old Fire Station, whose house had been surrounded by flood waters.

"Otterton this morning was almost completely cut off," added Mr Chalk.

In total Devon Fire Control received in excess of 150 calls to reports of widespread flooding in the following Ottery St Mary, Whimple, Talaton, Feniton, Newton Poppleford, Awliscombe, West Hill, Cadhay, Rockbeare.

The Fire Crews were hampered by extreme weather conditions which made the roads impassable to some areas conditions included deep snow and floodwater.

A Met Office spokesman said: "These are freak weather conditions - and happened with in a localised strip and unfortunately it was East Devon that took the brunt of it.

"From 6pm on Wednesday to 8am this morning an average of 75mm of rain fell.

"The average monthly rainfall is 103 mm - effectively overnight we had 75 per cent of the monthly rain fall in a single night."

He added that freak rainfall was very hard to predict - but the weekend weather was predicted to have only light rain fall and be 'fine.'

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