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Britain braced for more flood chaos

The UK is braced for another day of deluges and flooding as heavy rain sweeps across the country.

Homes were flooded and roads left underwater on Wednesday as downpours caused widespread disruption, and forecasters warned more misery is on its way.

Vehicles were abandoned and there were reports of entire villages being cut off as floodwater surged through lanes and streets and into homes.

As with Wednesday, the South West and Wales are expected to bear the brunt of the weather as a low pressure system moves eastwards across the country, bringing gusts of up to 70mph and extremely heavy rain.

The Met Office warned that some areas could see up to 60mm (5in) of rain falling on already saturated ground, leading to further risk of rivers flooding.

Strong winds could yet worsen conditions, particularly surface water flooding, as leaves and debris block drains and channels.

More than 80 flood warnings are in place - 50 alone in the South West - and there are a further 138 less serious flood alerts, the Environment Agency said.

Agency teams are on the ground across the country clearing watercourses of debris and monitoring river levels, and will be out in force over the coming days.

Pete Fox, the Environment Agency's head of flood risk strategy, said: "There is already significant travel disruption due to the wet weather and we would urge people to remain vigilant as further flooding is possible across the South West.

"People at flood risk should move their valuable possessions to a safe place before the heavy rain falls.

"We also ask that people stay safe, by staying away from swollen rivers and not attempting to drive through floodwater."

Sally Webb, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the meteorological division of the Press Association, said: "There will be gusts as high as 70mph in coastal parts of Cornwall and south west Wales, and it will be very windy elsewhere, reaching up to 50mph.

"The rain is going to be very heavy, and in parts of Cornwall and south-west Wales we could see as much as 50mm or even 60mm over higher ground.

"Elsewhere in the UK is likely to see between 25mm and 30mm.

"The South West and Wales are going to be the worst hit, and it will also be slow to clear from Scotland.

"Rain will push east overnight towards East Anglia, London and Kent, leaving it a bit drier and clearer in the west.

"Some of the heaviest rain will be in areas that have already got flooding, such as the Devon and Bristol areas.

"This weather is very common for autumn, it is just unfortunate that it seems to keep coming at the moment."

While Thursday is expected to be a washout, Friday should be bright and breezy, with sunny spells and scattered showers in the west.

The weather caused major problems on the road on Wednesday, with the AA attending more than 8,000 breakdowns - 37% more than normal - and 500 floodwater-related callouts by 4pm.

Roads were reported as being impassable around the M5 corridor and in Worcestershire and south Birmingham, and standing water on roads created difficulties for motorists.

Dozens of schools were closed, including 12 in Devon and 17 in Somerset, two of the worst-hit counties, and businesses including pubs and restaurants forced to turn away customers following the floods.

Emergency services in Somerset were also called to a flooded property to help rescue a woman who had gone into labour and needed to get to hospital.

Earlier this week, more than 100 residents were evacuated from their homes and transport links were cut off after persistent heavy rain caused flooding in Scotland.

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