Blocked drains added to the problems caused by flash floods
A policeman wades through floodwater in Honiton Road, Exeter
HOMES were flooded and traffic plunged into mayhem as torrential showers caused flash flooding across the Westcountry.
The intense localised downpours, accompanied by thunder and lightning, hit communities across Devon and Cornwall yesterday afternoon. Among the worst affected were Exeter – where motorists faced traffic misery when a major road was closed – and St Austell in Cornwall, where a number of properties were flooded.
Cars were abandoned around the Honiton Road area of Exeter, at the junction with Sweetbrier Lane, after it filled with two-and-a-half feet of water, exacerbated by blocked drains. It caused the tarmac to crack and lift from the ground, and police officers had to rescue a woman driving a mobility scooter.
Queues of cars built up for several hours in both directions, with congestion extending to the Sowton Industrial Estate.
The road was closed from 2.45pm, and traffic built up on all alternative routes.
Part of the road remained closed overnight to allow for surface repairs. It is expected to reopen fully this afternoon.
PC Jim Gledhill, one of the first officers at the scene, said: "People were still driving through when we got here so we closed the roads right away. The pipes are just not big enough to cope with that amount of water."
Crews from South West Highways cleared the drains by hand and used a gully emptier to suck out the debris.
Ian Thorn, a gully sucker operator for South West Highways, said: "There were loads of leaves there and it just takes a few to cause a blockage. This area is also the bottom of a valley and mud comes sliding down off the bank. It happens all the time at this junction."
Karen Graham, 46, a dental nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, got stuck in the water in her blue Vauxhall Corsa on her way home to Feniton.
She said: "I phoned the police and they came to my rescue and pushed the car out. I couldn't belive that in just 15 minutes the road was like a river."
A spokesman for Devon County Council said South West Water would investigate the problem with the sewer.
In Barnstaple, two occupants of a car had to be released after it became stuck in flood water on Eastern Avenue at 5.45pm.
Cornwall Fire Brigade was called out to several incidents in St Austell at about 3pm.
A spokesman for the service said: "We attended two domestic properties, one in Eton Road and another in Chapmans Way, and assisted with salvage and removal of water.
"In St Blazey a few inches of water from the garden has entered a property."
John Hammond, a Met Office forecaster, said 20 to 30mm of rain fell in just one hour yesterday, but said the weather was set to improve.
He said: "Today will be mostly dry, with temperatures reaching 19 degrees and some sunshine.
"It will be a bit cloudier on Wednesday, and the weekend will see sunshine and temperatures of around 22 degrees."