Just a Mini problem! Car swept under bridge as owner tries to ford flooded river and rain brings chaos to Christmas travellers

Just a Mini problem! Car swept under bridge as owner tries to ford flooded river and rain brings chaos to Christmas travellers
Families in Ystalyfera spend night in leisure centre after evacuationTonnes of earth crushed terraced houses in Pontypridd when wall collapsedWoman in Devon rescued by RNLI and fire crews after she was swept from her car
Environment Agency issue 186 flood warnings and one severe flood warningRail routes under pressure as Christmas commuters try to get homeFirst Great Western advises passengers not to use trains in the South West
Almost half of the expected monthly rainfall fell in one day in parts of UK

Eleven families fled their homes in Wales over night after two landslides

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UPDATED:

19:27 GMT, 23 December 2012

A 70 year old former Royal Marine has saved a woman from her sinking car after it was swept away by flood water and trapped under a bridge.

She was driving her Mini over a ford in
Llancarfen, Vale of Glamorgan, when flood water ripped it off course.

Nearby pub-goers at the Fox and Hounds saw the car floating downstream, which then got wedged under a stone bridge.

Quick-thinking former Royal Marine Sam Smith, 70, used a ladder to smash one of the car windows and helped her to safety.

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The car was trying to cross a nearby ford when it was swept downstream, coming to rest against the buttress of a bridge

A woman has been rescued from her sinking car after it was ripped off course by flood water in the Vale of Glamorgan

A woman had to be rescued after her mini was washed away in flood water in the Vale of Glamorgan

The car was trying to cross a nearby ford when it was swept downstream, coming to rest against the buttress of a bridge

The woman, in her 30s and from Barry, south Wales, was driving her Mini over a ford when flood water picked up her car and swept it away on Saturday afternoon

The woman, in her 30s and from Barry, south Wales, was driving her Mini over a ford when flood water picked up her car and swept it away on Saturday afternoon

A quick thinking former Royal Marine used a ladder to smash one of the car windows and helped her to safety

A quick thinking former Royal Marine used a ladder to smash one of the car windows and helped her to safety

Moments later the car was dragged under one of the bridge arches and under water. The driver was shaken but not hurt and did not need hospital treatment

Moments later the car was dragged under one of the bridge arches and under water. The driver was shaken but not hurt and did not need hospital treatment

Tonnes of mud and debris crushed into the row of terraced houses in Pontypridd last night

Tonnes of mud and debris crushed into the row of terraced houses in Pontypridd last night

Families had to flee in the middle of the night as the 20ft retaining wall collapsed into the back of the houses

Families had to flee in the middle of the night as the 20ft retaining wall collapsed into the back of the houses

Craig Stewart ran from the home with his young baby when the wall came down

Salman Khan's back door caved in under the weight of the collapsed wall

Devastated: Salman Khan's, right, back door caved in under the weight of the collapsed wall and Craig Stewart had to flee with his young baby during the landslip

Moments later the car was dragged under one of the bridge arches and under water.

The driver was shaken but not hurt and did not need hospital treatment.

Mr Smith said: 'My military training kicked in. If you find yourself in a
situation where something has to be done then you do it.

'The young woman avoided death by under a minute. There is no way she
would have survived under that arch.'

Pub landlady Sue Millard, 57,
said: 'She owes her life to the people of Llancarfan.
'Everyone in the pub went to help her and thankfully got her out of the
car in the nick of time.'

A spokesman for South Wales Police said:
'There's quite a few people in the village who deserve a pat on the
back.

Families were forced to flee after two landslides left their homes filled with mud and debris.

Torrential rain in Wales 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.

Elsewhere, a woman was rescued from
floods after she was spotted by a police helicopter desperately clinging
on to a tree for 50 minutes.

She had been swept away from her car
by flood waters in Umberleigh, near Barnstaple, Devon, but managed to
grab hold of a branch on the banks of the River Taw.

She has tonight been named as Vanessa Glover.

Her husband Paul said she was treated in hospital but was back at their home near South Molton, Devon.

He said: 'She has a few bumps and bruises. But we are very glad to be alive.'

He said he and son scrambled on to the roof of their 4×4 but he turned round and found that his wife had been swept into the fast flowing River Taw.

She spent 50 minutes clinging to a branch before a police helicopter pinpointed her position and a RNLI crew picked her up.

Mr Glover said: 'I didn't think I would see her again.'

Some parts of the UK received more
than a third of its expected monthly rainfall in one day and the
Environment Agency has put out 186 flood warnings.

One severe flood warning – meaning risk to life – has also been issued for the River Cober in Helston in Cornwall.

In Pontypridd, mounds of earth and slate was crushed against the back of the row of ten former miners cottages.

One family did not even have time to grab a bottle of for their baby as they ran from their homes at midnight.

David Stewart, whose son Craig lives in one of the houses, told the BBC: 'There's a black expanse of rubble and earth.

'The rubble is up to the bedroom windows in some cases, and one kitchen has disappeared. How nobody was killed, I don't know.

'My son and his partner have a
seven-month-old son. They just had to leave straight away. They didn't
even have time to grab a bottle for the baby.'

The woman was spotted by a police helicopter desperately holding on to a tree branch

The woman was spotted by a police helicopter desperately holding on to a tree branch

Residents in Ystalyfera spent the night in a leisure centre and all but four of the 11 effected were allowed home today.

Today, RNLI rescuers were praised for the dangerous mission to save the woman caught in Devon flood waters.

She had been in a car with her husband and son when they were trapped by flood water.

Her husband and son were rescued by passers-by while the woman had tried to clamber to safety onto the top of the car but was swept away.

She managed to grab hold of a branch and clung on while a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Robin Goodlad, the RNLI's incident commander said the rescue had been an 'heroic' effort.

'These three volunteers were working in complete darkness, in an environment they had never been in before and ideally this should have been a two-boat operation,' Mr Goodlad said.

'They had a pinpoint light of the police helicopter to locate the woman.

'They got the woman into the boat. She had been in the water for 50 minutes and the guys are gobsmacked that she is alive and if they had not picked her up in that boat she would have been floating away downstream.

Clean up: A woman mops up the flood waters from her cafe in Barnstaple, Devon

Clean up: A woman mops up the flood waters from her cafe in Barnstaple, Devon

Pick and mix trays filled with water after severe flooding in Braunton, North Devon

The newsagents on Caen Street, after severe flooding in Braunton, North Devon

A newsagents in Braunton, North Devon, is
damaged by the flood waters, which began to recede today – although pick
and mix trays were still filled with water, left

Roads are gradually reopening today but flood water still remains in Braunton, North Devon

Roads are gradually reopening today but flood water still remains in Braunton, North Devon

'They were fully aware of the risks. This was a high risk operation with a high benefit and they decided to get on with it.

'This was a very heroic rescue, there are no two ways about it.'

Today,
flood waters in South West England began to recede, giving residents
and business owners the chance to start the clean up operation and
assess the damage.

During
a night of rescues, a family of three, including one child, were also
stuck in the fast flowing floodwater in Umberleigh today.

RNLI and fire crews from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service pulled the family free from their car.

Police and paramedics also attended the incident shortly before 1am today near Umberleigh Railway
Station along with an RNLI boat team and a search and rescue
helicopter.

A spokesman for the fire service said: 'The occupants in the car were
difficult to reach although one male person and one child were rescued
by fire service personnel using dry suits.

'The adult female was out of reach and was eventually rescued by the RNLI boat team.'

The volunteer RNLI crews waded through to three feet of water to rescue people trapped in their cars and homes

The volunteer RNLI crews waded through to three feet of water to rescue people trapped in their cars and homes

Thirty volunteer RNLI crew helped rescue people from the flood water in flooded Devon and Cornwall overnight

Thirty volunteer RNLI crew helped rescue people from the flood water in flooded Devon and Cornwall overnight

The RNLI Flood Rescue Team ferried people through the streets of Devon and Cornwall as communities sat under three feet of water

The RNLI Flood Rescue Team ferried people through the streets of Devon and Cornwall as communities sat under three feet of water

TRAVEL MISERY: FLOODING CAUSES DELAYS ON RAILWAYS ACROSS UK

Rail services across the country remain in disarray, causing a headache for Christmas commuters.

First Great Western is advising passengers not to attempt to travel in the South West following disruptions to a number of services, National Rail said on its website.

In the South West many train services are severely delayed and poor road conditions mean buses are not able to run on many routes.

Plymouth to Taunton services are badly affected and journeys may take up to two hours longer, on top of delays.

No trains are running between Newquay and Par and the Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple line is suspended.

Passengers with Saturday tickets can travel today or tomorrow after First Great Western lifted ticket restrictions.

East Midlands Trains has suspended services between Derby and Nottingham and there are delays of almost an hour between Derby and Loughborough because of flooding.

A railway track at Exeter remains closed until after Christmas because of floods.

Engineers and fire crews have been working on the line at Cowley bridge where Network Rail have placed three plastic dams to try to stem the flow of water.

It is the first time the water filled dams have been used in this country with the aim of directing the water back to the River Exe.

The full extent of the damage will not be known until the waters recede.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: 'We've got three dams in place now which are doing the job of directing the water back to whence it came.

'We accepted that part of the railway line was likely to flood and bearing that in mind wanted to try to direct the water away from as much of the railway as we could, so put in two temporary dams, which are water filled.

'We are now in the process of putting a third in place.'

He said it is likely the water will have washed away much of the ballast – the crushed granite that the railway line sits on.

In Wales, flooding has caused disruption to a number of services including lines between Cardiff Central and Swansea, Rhoose Cardiff International Airport, between Cardiff and Bristol.

Two hours later a crew from Okehampton were called to Sanders Lane, in
Bishops Tawton, near Barnstaple where two elderly women were trapped in
their home.

The property was 50 metres from the road and surrounded by three foot of floodwater.

The fire crew and a RNLI in-shore boat rescued the two women who were
taken to safety before two further people and two dogs were also rescued
from a nearby cottage.

Dozens of residents in the South West
face Christmas with floodwater in their homes, and communities across
the country are on alert as hundreds of flood warnings remain in place.

In Wales, a retired Royal Marine pulled a woman from her car at about 1pm yesterday, just one minute before it was swept under a bridge.

The woman, in her thirties, from Barry, was driving her Mini over a ford in Llancarfen, Vale of Glamorgan, when flood water picked up her car and swept it away.

Pub-goers, who were enjoying a lunchtime drink in the Fox and Hounds, saw the car floating downstream, which then got wedged under a stone bridge.

Sam Smith, 70, used a ladder to smash one of the car windows and helped her to safety.

Moments later the car was dragged under one of the bridge arches and under water.

The driver was shaken but not hurt and did not need hospital treatment.

Mr Smith said: 'My military training kicked in – if you find yourself in a situation where something has to be done then you do it.

'The young woman avoided death by under a minute.There is no way she would have survived under that arch.'

Pub landlady Sue Millard, 57, said: 'She owes her life to the people of Llancarfan.

'Everyone in the pub went to help her and thankfully got her out of the car in the nick of time.

'Sam was totally heroic.'

A spokesman for South Wales Police said today: 'There's quite a few people in the village who deserve a pat on the back.

'They should be proud of themselves for saving someone's life.'

Meanwhile, an air and sea search has been called off after a person went missing when a boat capsized.

Two people were seen holding on to the side of an overturned boat in Poole Harbour, Doreset, shortly before 11am today.

They were rescued and taken to hospital but lifeboats and Coastguard helicopters are in an 'intensive' search for a third person believed to have been on board.

RNLI RAW VIDEO Flood Rescue Team rescue householders in Lostwithiel

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Network Rail engineers have installed an aquadam system usedas flood prevention on tracks in Exeter

Network Rail engineers have installed an aquadam system usedas flood prevention on tracks in Exeter

Liz Spear, chair of the local council, said a river was running through the centre of Braunton, pictured

Liz Spear, chair of the local council, said a river was running through the centre of Braunton, pictured

A residents is helped by rescuers in Braunton, north Deveon, which has been effectively cut off after the River Caen burst its banks

A residents is helped by rescuers in Braunton, north Deveon, which has been effectively cut off after the River Caen burst its banks

186 flood warnings and one severe flood warning - meaning risk to life - are in place today from the Environment Agency

186 flood warnings and one severe flood warning – meaning risk to life – are in place today from the Environment Agency

The boat capsized near Brownsea Island and members of the public on the shore dialled 999.

Dom Fraser at the North Haven Yacht
Club at Sandbanks told the Bournemouth Echo he understood the three
people had been in a dinghy.

He said: 'Around 10.45 I heard people shouting for help. I was about to row over but then the helicopter arrived.

'The water is quite shallow where it happened, to the point where you can stand up.'

Volunteers are searching the shoreline and a number of private boats are believed to be helping the Coastguard.

Elsewhere, about 25 firefighters from Mid and West Fire Service were called to 30 flooded houses in Clydach, Swansea.

A driver also died today, 24 hours after a motorway crash involving a 17 tonne lorry and several cars on the Eastbound carriageway of the M4 near Cardiff.

It was raining heavily and there was severe surface water on the motorway at the time.

Police said the victim was a 42-year-old man from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

The Environment
Agency (EA) last night said there was a heightened flood risk across
Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Hampshire, the Isle of
Wight, West and East Sussex, North Yorkshire, south Wales, Ceredigion
and Gwynedd.

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas
commuters will also face further misery today as their chances of
getting home for the festive holiday are hampered by the effects of
flooding.

Rail routes across the country will be
under increasing pressure as people who were unable to travel yesterday
will add to already heaving services as they attempt to reschedule their
journeys.

Dozens of routes have been affected by
heavy rain in recent days, and flooding has been so bad in the South
West that First Great Western is advising passengers with non-essential
journeys not to travel on trains or replacement buses in the area at
all, because of flooding and poor road conditions.

A car park at Gunthorpe on the banks of the River Trent, Nottinghamshire, lay underwater on Sunday morning

A car park at Gunthorpe on the banks of the River Trent, Nottinghamshire, lay underwater on Sunday morning

Football fields in Tacaster, North Yorkshire, were also totally submerged after heavy downpours

Football fields in Tacaster, North Yorkshire, were also totally submerged after heavy downpours

TRAVEL CHAOS AS THOUSANDS TAKE TO THE ROADS FOR CHRISTMAS GETAWAY

The road network has also been widely affected by the weather on one of the busiest travelling days ahead of Christmas.

The A27 near Chichester is partially closed because of flooding is flooded, as is the M4 motorway on the westbound slip road to Reading services.

In Leicester, the northbound A46 has one lane shut because of flooding.

The Highways Agency said it will not be fully reopened until about 12noon on Christmas Eve.

On the M4, the westbound exit slip to Reading Services has also flooded and is not expected to reopen until 4pm.

Heavy traffic and accidents have also caused delays on the M1 southbound, between junctions 14 and 15; M25 clockwise between junctions 9 and 10; M4 westbound between junctions 11 and 12.

The M62 is closed between junctions 28 and 27 and is not expected to reopen until 8.45pm.

Some 346 flood alerts are also in place across the country.

Elsewhere
in south Wales, 70mm of rain fell between 6am yesterday and this
morning – more than one third of the 170mm monthly average rainfall.

The flooded railway track at Exeter will mean the line will remain closed until after Christmas.

Network Rail's John Baker said: 'We have no estimates but the lines will not be reopened for several days.'

The
Exeter to Taunton line and Exeter to Barnstaple line are both under
water and it is not expected to reopen before December 27.

The
problem has become worse with the failure of two inflatable dams that
Network Rail used to try and hold back the floodwater from affecting
signalling gear.

The trio were stuck in fast flowing
water and fire crews rescued the man and child while the woman was out
of reach and an RNLI crew plucked her to safety after midnight.

There
were numerous rescues of people trapped in cars in floods in the
Westcountry – even though motorists had been repeatedly advised not to
drive through floodwater.

The
town of Braunton in north Devon was effectively cut off yesterday, with
homes and shops under water, after the River Caen burst its banks.

Though
the River Caen is now falling and rain is clearing, an Environment
Agency spokesman said the river yesterday breached a section of
Braunton's flood defences.

In Scotland an elderly man was one of 25 people who had to be rescued in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

In Scotland an elderly man was one of 25 people who had to be rescued in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

The
1.2 million defence scheme was completed in June when the agency said
the works meant flooding would be reduced from a one in 20 chance of
occurring in any one year to one in 100.

Liz Spear, chairman of Braunton Parish Council, said a river had run through the centre of the town.

'It's
disappointing really because the Environment Agency have just spent
over 1 million on new flood defence schemes – two flood defence schemes
– this year but they've been totally overwhelmed,' she said.

Business owners in Caen Street were left surveying the damage this morning.

Emma
Beeston, who runs a restaurant in Braunton, said that despite having
flood boards and sand bags she had two inches of water throughout her
business.

'Ourselves and every other business and lots of homes were under a lot of water for quite a long time,' she told the BBC.

Streets in Stoke Canon, in Devon, are still flooded

Streets in Stoke Canon, in Devon, are still flooded

'The
timing couldn't be any worse for any of us here, really. The start of
the Christmas holiday is always a busy time, it is a two-week period.

'There
are shops in this village that are not going to get opened for the
entire Christmas period. 'Their stock has all been lost. Towards the
middle of Caen Street there was 3ft of water, much of that went into the
shops and you can't turn that round overnight.

'Luckily
for us we managed to, once the water had receded, get the water out and
give it a first mop clean. Unfortunately at 7pm last night the same
thing happened again, it re-flooded.'

Flooding minister, Richard Benyon, said yesterday: ‘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.’

He added: ‘It’s crucial people continue to be vigilant by keeping a close eye on the Environment Agency’s flood warnings and allowing the emergency services to do their work.’

BBC Wales speak to Craig Stewart after his home is damaged Pontypridd

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VIDEO River Bray bursts its banks. Vehicles and people stranded

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