Flood devastation 'heartbreaking'

Bicester Advertiser: A man looks out of a window as a crew from the RNLI and paramedics pass a submerged car in St Asaph, Denbighshire A man looks out of a window as a crew from the RNLI and paramedics pass a submerged car in St Asaph, Denbighshire

Residents have described the "heartbreaking" damage heavy rain wrought on its flood-ravaged streets and homes - as the body of an elderly woman was pulled from a house.

The tiny Welsh city of St Asaph, Denbighshire, became the latest to be devastated by the floods which are sweeping Britain, as co-ordinated rescue teams hauled residents from their properties.

After the River Elwy reached record levels and burst through flood defences, 500 people living in what is one of Britain's smallest cities, with a population of around 3,400, were encouraged to pack their bags and move in with friends or family until the risk subsided.

Mother-of-two Helen Ross, 37, who works at a local school in St Asaph, said the water level reached more than a foot above her floorboards, causing extensive damage to her living and dining rooms and kitchen.

"I have lived here nine years and I (have) never seen the river cause flooding like this," she said. "My husband phoned me at 7am to say parts of the city were being evacuated. I looked out of the window and there was water over the road and then, within an hour, it was in the house." Wiping away tears, she added: "We've lost everything downstairs. It's heartbreaking."

St Asaph Leisure Centre was transformed into an evacuation centre where about 150 people gathered for shelter, including people with babies.

North Wales Police said the body of a woman was found at noon as they carried out house-to-house checks in the Tair Felin area. Officers said there were no suspicious circumstances and her death was being treated as unexplained. Her next-of-kin have been informed.

The Elwy, which is still rising, has reached a record high of 14ft 3in (4.35m) at St Asaph, making it more than 3ft (1m) deeper than its previous record of 11ft 4in (3.47m) in November 2009. Two Environment Agency severe flood warnings for the river - one for St Asaph - indicating a potential danger to life, remain in force.

The RNLI said it had sent an inshore lifeboat to the city, as well as a rescue boat which was used to ferry people from their homes to dry ground.

A 92-year-old local man was rescued by British Red Cross volunteers earlier after he became trapped in his house on Monday night.

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