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  1. ITV Report

No end in sight to wet weather

In Weymouth, Dorset, a park and ride car park was flooded Photo: ITV News

Forecasters have warned there will be no respite from the wet weather this week as flood-hit communities across the UK count the cost of recent torrential downpours.

Many homes were left under water and one driver died when his car left the road after a month's worth of rain fell in just 24 hours in many parts of the country.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today met flood victims in Devon, where a huge clean-up operation was under way after the area saw the worst of the weekend's bad weather.

Ms Spelman spoke of the importance of flood prevention schemes during the visit to Ottery St Mary, near Exeter, which had a number of defences put in place after previous flooding.

She said she had been given assurances that all Olympic sites would be resilient to flood after flooding at a park-and-ride car park in Weymouth, Dorset, which will be used to transport spectators to sailing events.

Tennis fans used umbrellas as the rain started to fall on Murray Mount in Wimbledon Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire/Press Association Images

At Wimbledon, rain stopped play during Roger Federer's Centre Court victory over Andy Murray and the men's singles final only resumed after the roof was closed.

But drivers and fans at the British Grand Prix were able to enjoy a dry race, despite two days of rain causing havoc on and around the Silverstone circuit and turning car parks into mudbaths.

Matt Dobson, senior forecaster with Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said England and Wales were unlikely to see any sunny weather during the next 10 days, although the forecast for tomorrow was more promising.

"Tomorrow we are looking at more scattered showers but it should be a little bit better than it has been over the past few days," he said.

"Looking ahead it is a very unsettled week with no respite from the wet weather.

"There will be heavy downpours on Tuesday and Thursday, particularly across England and Wales, and no sign of any sunny weather for the next 10 days."

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman (centre) meets Devon residents Philip Nolwenn and Luke Nolwenn Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Mr Dobson said scattered heavy showers were affecting east Wales and the West Midlands, with heavy thunderstorms over Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

There would also be heavy showers in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire tonight, moving towards London and the south coast and a risk of thunderstorms over central and eastern England tomorrow.

Earlier, Ms Spelman visited a number of flood defences during her visit to Ottery St Mary, which saw rain turn some of its main roads into rivers.

One of the culverts she was taken to protected 60 nearby properties from water entering their homes.

Elizabeth Nickels, 62, who spoke to Ms Spelman about the flooding, said they had been incredibly lucky that the flood prevention scheme had been completed just weeks ago.

"Down by the bottom of Slade Close on the other end of the town it was absolutely dreadful," Mrs Nickels said.

"The water was coming off East Hill in absolute torrents and they were absolutely unable to get in and out of that part of the town.

"So we were so much luckier on this side of the town, I mean the defence worked, and thank goodness for it, when you think it's only been finished a few weeks it was exactly at the right time."

Philip and Nolwenn Luke told Ms Spelman that the Environment Agency's early warning text message system had allowed them to move their car to safety before the floods hit.

The couple had their Audi swept down a small lane in 2008 - a picture that hit the headlines.

Mr Luke, 36, described the force of the water yesterday as "incredibly powerful" and praised the Environment Agency for its warning system.

Ms Spelman said: "The Government in this parliament has made available more than £2 billion to build new flood defences because we do recognise with the increasing frequency of extreme weather events a good use of taxpayers' money is to prevent the flooding happening, like this flood defence I am standing in front of right now, which protected 60 properties.

"What these new flood defences will do is make sure that we better protect at least another 145,000 homes over the next four years."

The Environment Secretary also spoke about how important social media had become as a way of warning residents as she thanked staff at the Met Office in Exeter for the work they have been doing to warn people about the bad weather.

Hearing that Radipole Lake had burst its banks, leaving a number of cars in water at the park-and-ride car park to be used for Olympic sailing events, Ms Spelman said: "At my department we have, with this unsettled weather, made a survey of all the Olympic sites round the country to make sure they will be resilient to flood as this period of unsettled weather may continue.

"I have been given assurances that they have all been checked from the point of view of their resilience in the event of flooding."

Elsewhere, firefighters had to be airlifted to safety when they became trapped by flood water while rescuing a flock of drowning sheep in Somerset, an RSPCA spokeswoman said.

The animals were left stranded by the rising water near a railway line at Batemans Farm in Chard.

But fire crews trying to save them also become trapped when the bridge leading to them collapsed, the spokeswoman said.

The 10 sheep were eventually rescued by RSPCA inspectors using a boat and the firefighters were lifted out by a coastguard helicopter, she said.

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