100 homes evacuated as England feels the full force

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ENGLAND and Wales took an even bigger battering than Scotland in yesterday’s wind and rain, with hundreds of drivers stranded and more than 100 homes evacuated.

Roads were left impassable, while homeowners were forced to protect their properties as water deluged swathes of Britain.

The South-west, Midlands and west of England were the worst-affected areas as heavy downpours led to flash flooding. People were evacuated from Billing Aquadrome campsite in Northamptonshire following flood warnings on the River Nene.

The AA, which had its busiest day for flood-related call-outs in its 107-year history on Wednesday, had attended 4,600 breakdowns by midday yesterday, with up to 900 incidents being reported every hour.

The motoring organisation expected to attend up to 13,000 for the day, compared with 9,500 on an average Thursday.

Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “With the ground so saturated, flash flooding was a real issue, with many people getting stuck.

“Drivers really need to be careful and be prepared for sudden road closures. We also see some drivers plough into flood water, somewhat oblivious to the risks. The air intake on modern cars is often quite low, and it takes just a tiny amount of water entering it to wreck the engine.”

The Met Office said some areas saw up to 60mm (2in) of rain falling on already saturated ground, which led to further river and surface water flooding.

Much of the UK faced winds of 50-60mph, and even gusts of up to 70mph in exposed parts of Wales, which worsened surface-water flooding as drains were blocked by wind-blown leaves and debris.

There were 76 flood warnings for rivers and more than 150 less serious flood alerts across England and Wales.

The gusty winds were so strong that high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorcycles were banned from using the Tamar Bridge, which connects Devon and Cornwall.

A decision to allow a ship to set sail across the English Channel in high winds with hundreds of live sheep on board was condemned as “barbaric” by the RSPCA. The vessel, MV Joline, set off from the port of Ramsgate in Kent laden with two lorry loads of sheep, but it had to abort its crossing and turn back to the Britain as the weather worsened.