Lynmouth 1952 flood: Survivor recalls night family 'lost everything' in UK's most deadly river flood

Today marks 70 years since the Lynmouth floods disaster, in which 34 people died.

On 15 August 1952, 500mm of rain fell in one day - six times the average for the whole month of August.

The East and West Lyn Rivers burst their banks, sending water gushing down the valleys of Exmoor.

Thousands of tons of water, boulders and soil then destroyed the tranquil holiday town of Lynmouth.

Thousands of tons of water, mud, boulders and soil swept down the valleys of Exmoor. Credit: Brisish Pathé

Wendy Marker, who is now 85 years old, was 15 at the time. She had just left school and had recently started a new waitressing job in the town.

She said: "I know in the afternoon, it belted with rain. Absolutely belted down. We went through the night, we heard the houses go about 1am.

"We didn't realise that's what the roar was at the time - until the next morning, when there was nothing there.

"It was just as though it was the river and that there had never been any houses at all."

Wendy Marker, then Parker, was just 15-year-old when the flooding occurred. Credit: ITV West Country

Four children were among the 34 people who died that night. It is the largest loss of life from a river flooding event the UK has ever seen.

The floods destroyed homes, shops, hotels, and people's livelihoods - 420 people were made homeless, and 100 homes were torn down.

Wendy's family home in Middleham was destroyed. Credit: Wendy Marker

Wendy said that the Lynmouth she knew and loved had changed forever.

"We had a lovely childhood," she said. "I mean, where we lived it was perfect. As kids we played in the river. That was our home."

Faced with needing to find somewhere to live, Wendy's father managed to secure a job at the power station in Bideford. The family moved there and they all tried to rebuild their lives.

On the 70th anniversary, Wendy says she is still so moved by the bravery of her family and the community of Lynmouth.

She told ITV News West Country: "If I lost everything now, I know how devastated I'd feel.

Wendy Parker married David Marker in 1959. Credit: Wendy Marker

"I always think of the families that lost everything during the flood and they all had to pick themselves up and get on with it.

"I think of my mother and grandmother, they lost all they had."

Wendy married her husband David in 1959 and together they built a loving family home. They now live in Great Torrington and have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

But Wendy says the strength shown by the people of Lynmouth still stays with her - as do the memories of that fateful night on 15 August 1952.