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Devon deluge sees homes flooded and travel chaos

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 24, 2012

  • Railway engineers and fire service personnel watch over the inflatable dams on the railway line at Cowley Bridge

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Another deluge of rain has brought festive misery to property and business owners in Devon.

Dozens of residents in the county were facing Christmas with floodwater in their homes as heavy rain over the weekend once again battered the South West.

Meanwhile thousands of Christmas commuters suffered travel chaos as road and rail services were severely hampered by the effects of flooding.

Some 25 people were led to safety by emergency services in the village of Stoke Canon near Exeter after the River Exe burst its banks.

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North Devon residents in Braunton, Umberleigh, Barnstaple and Bishops Tawton were evacuated after the Rivers Yeo and Caen burst their banks.

The town of Braunton was virtually cut-off by the floodwater.

Devon and Cornwall Police said "numerous properties" and several shops had been affected.

Liz Spear, chairman, of Braunton Parish Council, said newly-built flood defences were overwhelmed by the volume of water that hit the town.

"It's really bad, we had flooding seven years ago, but it was nothing like this.

"We've had rain on and off all summer so everywhere is saturated and now we're having our normal heavy rain that we get in the winter and the sponge is already soaked up, it can't take any more."

Mrs Spear, who has lived in Braunton for 45 years, said there was a river running through the centre of the town.

The British Surf Museum in Braunton tweeted a warning saying "village centre under five feet of water".

A £1.2 million defence scheme completed in June at the River Caen was supposed to reduce the flooding risk from a one in 20 chance of occurring in any one year to one in 100. Following floods in the village in 2004, the agency created a flood defence plan working in liaison with the parish council.

Two elderly women were rescued from a Bishops Tawton property that was by three foot of floodwater.

The fire crew and a RNLI in-shore boat brought them to safety before another two people and two dogs were rescued from a nearby cottage.

In the village of Colebrook, near Plymouth, seven homes were evacuated overnight and in Plympton 15 people were forced to move after the Long Brook burst its banks. A number of people also had to be moved from homes in Aveton Gifford.

Train services throughout the region were severely disrupted by the flooding.

First Great Western confirmed the Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple and Liskeard to Looe lines were closed and would reopen on December 29 at the earliest.

The rail operator advised passengers not to travel in the South West. Network Rail said one of two plastic dams set up to protect the railway line at Exeter to minimise flood damage was itself under water. And it admitted the main line could be blocked for five days.

Drivers faced problems as many roads were closed due to flooding and land slips, including the A396 Tiverton to Exeter road, the A377 Crediton to Exeter road and the A39 at Barnstaple. Okehampton was recorded as the wettest place in the country with almost 3 inches (66mm) of rain falling in the 24 hours up to 5pm yesterday.

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  • Bleach  |  December 26 2012, 5:24PM

    Did I ever say I was pro or anti anything? Did I mention climate change or global warming? If you're genuinely looking for explanations, check the satellite image records. You can see the rain coming across the Atlantic. Yurbulence has nothing to do with precipitation. You may have been taught that when air rises it generally cools. Cool air can't hold as much moisture as warm air and so it rains. Buildings cause turbulence, especially tall ones. You don't see more rain the the city than you do in the country. there may well be records showing changes in weather since turbines have been in use but correlation does imply causality, except in the minds of stupid people. If you really want reasons why we're experiencing wetter weather than normal, go to the Met Office web site. The Herald Excuse website is a foolish place to ask.

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  • bernardhough  |  December 26 2012, 1:18PM

    Oh and I did say that I wasn`t talking about climate change or global warming, but UK weather. Very sorry about hitting the `u` instead of `y` Bye

  • bernardhough  |  December 26 2012, 1:08PM

    If no one else wishes to place comments apart from a pro wind farmer who can only be offensive , then I give up.

  • Bleach  |  December 26 2012, 9:42AM

    "However anyone really interested could look at these scientific web sites, then comment about mu `utter rubbish`" You make it really easy by saying something that's obviously utter rubbish. http://tinyurl.com/c8s6re4

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  • bernardhough  |  December 26 2012, 12:57AM

    I only wish there was a way of placing a picture of the U.S. wind farm turbulence, taken by scientists on this comments page, the turbulence is massive, they have problems with wind farms on flat land, never mind hillsides. However anyone really interested could look at these scientific web sites, then comment about mu `utter rubbish`!! http://tinyurl.com/dxnx2p4 http://tinyurl.com/29wp77v http://tinyurl.com/dmr4sq

  • Bleach  |  December 25 2012, 9:32PM

    "The problem I have is that pro wind turbine people I speak to dismiss me out of hand" I'm not surprised, you're talking utter rubbish.

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  • bernardhough  |  December 25 2012, 12:46PM

    I was taught at school many years ago that clouds containing rain were caused to drop it when meeting high ground ie hills and relatively small mountains ( as in the UK ) The higher ground creating turbulance within the clouds as they passed up and over. Considering that we in the UK do not have any really high ground then the effect must be able to occur at reasonably low altitudes. I would like some knowledgeable and HONEST person to tell me if the proliferation of windfarms around the UK both on land and coastline can have the same effect due to the turbulence they create, hence causing the heavy rains, causing millions of pounds damage to property etc. that we are experiencing. Are there any records that may show the changes in our weather patterns since the arrival of wind farms? I would hope that insurance companies may be interested in any information. After all I have read of people being disturbed by the sound from them up to a mile away! And of course this can only happen if the surrounding air moved hence carrying the sound. I am not talking about `climate change` or `global warming` I am talking about this islands localised weather conditions. The problem I have is that pro wind turbine people I speak to dismiss me out of hand. If it is correct then they don`t want to know. Could someone help? I believe research is being carried out in the U.S. into turbulence created by wind farms.

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