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  1. ITV Report

Woman clings to tree for 50 minutes as waters rise

The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Teams worked with a police helicopter to save a woman who had been swept away from her car by flooding and was clinging to a tree branch in freezing water.

The dramatic rescue happened at Umberleigh near Barnstaple in north Devon at around 3am on Sunday.

The woman was with her husband and son when their vehicle became trapped in floodwater from the swollen River Taw. She was swept away by the floodwater but managed to cling to a branch of a tree for 50 minutes.

The woman was helped to safety using a rigid inflatable and was treated for exposure to the water.

Rescuers say she was lucky to be alive.

"This was a very heroic rescue, there are no two ways about it. The three volunteers were working in complete darkness, in an environment they had never been in before and ideally this should have been a two-boat operation.They had a pinpoint light of the police helicopter to locate the woman. Eventually they got the woman into the boat. She had been in the water for 50 minutes and the guys are gobsmacked that she is alive. If they had not picked her up in that boat she would have been floating away downstream.

– Robin Goodlad, RNLI Incident Commander
Police helicopter assists in rescuing woman from floods Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

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