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Floods and cliff falls still threaten the Westcountry

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 17, 2012

Hailstones bigger than a pound coin fell on Penzance

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Wild weather pounded the Westcountry over the weekend bringing more misery to communities struggling to recover from floods earlier this month.

Forecasters warned there was more unsettled weather on the way this week while last night the Environment Agency had four flood warnings and 18 alerts for the region.

In Devon, three huntsman rescued a man who spent four hours clinging to a tree after being stranded by rising waters.

Fire crews say the man took a wrong turn on his way home and slipped into the River Exe at Exwick.

The water had swollen to 6ft (1.8m) deep and he climbed a tree and clung on for at least four hours.

He was found up the tree by three men who were hunting nearby on Saturday.

More than twelve firefighters helped rescue the man, who was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.

Sean Faulkner, from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Luckily there was a group of three gentlemen who were out hunting and they heard his cries, because it was in the middle of nowhere, and they raised the alarm.

"I think if it wasn't for the swift actions of the men and the crew it would have been a different outcome."

In West Cornwall, there was freak weather as hailstones the size of pound coins rained down from the skies setting off car alarms and giving many streets a festive white covering.

Penzance resident Mark Stokes was tending his chickens when was bombarded by the hailstones.

"All of a sudden the chickens legged it inside and it began hammering down," he said.

"It was really intense – for ten minutes it was like being in a war zone. The racket was unbelievable."

The 50-year-old said he was forced to take shelter in the chicken coop until the deluge ceased just after 9.30am.

Nearby Land's End airport, which serves the Isles of Scilly route, was closed on Saturday due to a waterlogged runway with bosses saying they would re-examine the situation today.

Meanwhile fossil hunters at Charmouth diced with death as they braved high waves from the sea and the possibility of further landslides to collect specimens. Last week, an expert warned that a large rock fall in Torbay was "imminent."

Alex Fox, forecaster at the Exeter-based Met Office said there was no respite on the horizon.

"Monday will be fairly similar to the weekend with a mixture of sunshine and showers, some of which will be heavy and thundery," he said.

"The showers will also be blustery which could cause problems in coastal communities."

Mr Fox said that tomorrow could be the best day of the week as further heavy rain was likely to sweep in from the west and more unsettled weather was on the cards.

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