A HERCULES freight plane was brought in yesterday by a supermarket giant to airlift food supplies to islanders cut off by bad weather.
There have been no sailings to or from the Shetland Islands for two days due to strong winds and high seas, and operator Serco NorthLink said it is unlikely any ferries will now move until tomorrow at the earliest.
Tesco said islanders had stripped shelves bare of produce and it had chartered a plane from Norway to help restock. The supermarket said it planned to run two supply flights yesterday and a further two today.
The airlifts came as heavy rain continued to cause severe flooding across parts of the UK. In Scotland yesterday, at least 15 flood alerts and 16 flood warnings issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) remained in place, with Tayside the worst-affected area.
Clean-up operations in Fife and other parts of the country hit by flooding on Friday continued, but conditions north of the Border remained generally less severe than in south-west England.
Shops and homes in Devon and Cornwall were hit by rising floodwaters, and residents in some areas were advised to leave their homes after three severe flood warnings were issued.
In North Devon, one of the worst-affected areas, Liz Spear, chairman of Braunton Parish Council, said a river was running through the centre of the town.
“It’s really bad. We had flooding seven years ago but it was nothing like this,” she said.
Business owners in the town’s Caen Street surveyed the damage to their properties and expressed concern that there could be more to come as the water level on the main street remained waist-high several hours after the initial flood.
Mark Ridge, who took over the London Inn in Caen Street earlier this year, said: “We were hoping this weekend would be our bumper weekend, to carry us through January, but it’s just killed it now.
“You just can’t put words to it how devastated you are – you work hard all year round and this happens three days before Christmas.”
First Great Western has advised rail passengers planning non-essential travel to avoid any journeys west of Taunton in Somerset because of flooding and landslips.
Several parts of Cornwall have been badly hit by the flooding.
The train operator said road vehicles were being used to transport passengers between Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth, but the service was hampered by flooded roads.
In Dorset there has been a significant landslip on the coast for the second day running.
Portland Coastguard said the fall had been reported by its rescue team on the northern part of Swanage Beach.
Earlier, several motorists in Dorset had to be rescued from vehicles stuck in floodwater.
Sporting fixtures throughout England suffered widespread disruption, although in Scotland only a match between Dumbarton and Raith Rovers was called off.
The Met Office released amber weather warnings, which mean “be prepared”, for heavy rain and strong winds across south-west England, Yorkshire and Humber, Wales, central Scotland and the Grampians until this morning.
Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said “heavy and persistent” rain would affect almost every part of the UK, after heavy rain swept the country overnight.
Meanwhile, Met Office forecasts said today would see rain and strong winds continuing across Scotland. Patchy rain would also continue across the far south, becoming persistent again later on in the afternoon. Elsewhere, it would be mainly dry with some sunny spells.
It looks increasingly likely that it will be a wet rather than white Christmas for most of the country.
Met Office forecasters say the week will begin with further heavy rain spreading north tomorrow.
It will be colder on Christmas Day with sunshine and scattered showers, wintry over hills in the north.
Boxing Day is predicted to be similar before rain returns later in the week.