Storm Dennis forced hundreds of residents to vacate their homes and disrupted railways and roads across the UK as experts warned that the flooding could continue for three days.
The environmental agency issued a record number of flood warnings – more than 600, including four serious life threatening warnings – because in some parts of the country, more than a month of rain fell within 48 hours.
Police reported serious incidents in South Wales, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire when rivers blew up their banks and blocked landslides and imprisoned residents.
One of the worst affected areas on Sunday was the village of Nantgarw near Cardiff, where entire streets were under water.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Paul Mason, group leader of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who conducted hundreds of rescue operations for people and their pets.
“We started getting calls at 5 a.m. In some cases the water was up to the window sills, so we sent a number of boats and crews here, systematically walked through each of the houses, knocked on doors, and tried to prioritize individuals.
“This weather is unprecedented. It’s incredible and right in the South Wales valleys. In my 31 years of service, this was the worst I’ve ever seen. “
Melanie Hughes, 38, said she was woken up in the early morning by shouts and car alarms and managed to get everyone to safety.
“We were lucky,” she said. “But our cars, kitchen, furniture, everything is gone. It will be a few months of hard work now. It was dirty, there was nothing to save.”
In the Rhondda Cynon Taf region alone, more than 1,000 houses were flooded with water, prompting Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones to launch a crowdfunding appeal. “Seeing how the floods are devastating our communities is really heartbreaking,” she said.
A man in his sixties died after being pulled out of the Tawe River near Swansea on Sunday morning. However, the police said the death was not suspicious or related to the bad weather.
The River Teme also burst on its banks and flooded villages on the Shropshire-Worcestershire border. In Lindridge, the fire and rescue services even had to rescue their own colleagues, who were stranded in a fire truck.
Dozens of roads and railroads were flooded even after heavy rains and strong winds caused by the second storm in just over a week.
All trains between the south west of England and Bristol and between Southampton and Bournemouth have been discontinued.
Parts of the UK have also been hit by winds above 80 mph, with the top speed being 91 mph in Aberdaron, North Wales.
More than 150 flights were canceled on Sunday morning due to weather conditions. Video footage showed a passenger plane landing almost sideways at Heathrow Airport while battling strong headwinds on Saturday.
Environment Minister George Eustice said, however, that he did not expect the government to declare a national emergency. “We don’t expect more heavy rain until next weekend, so there will be a break,” he said.
“It is not yet a national emergency, but it is certainly a local emergency in many of the areas affected.”
A yellow storm warning for wind will remain in effect in the west and north of England until 11 a.m. on Monday. Gusts of up to 100 km / h are likely to cause further travel interruptions.
“We’re not yet out of the forest with wind,” said Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell. “We also need to channel all this water through the river system. Although the warnings from us may expire, the flood warnings are likely to remain in effect for the next 24 hours.”
Severe flood warnings continue to apply to the Neath and Taff rivers in South Wales and the Teme River further north.
According to the Met Office, a total of 156.2 mm of rain fell in the Crai Reservoir in Powys in the 48 hours from Friday to Sunday morning, compared to the monthly average for February of 111.1 mm.
High river levels in York, West Midlands, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and southern England are expected to continue until Wednesday, according to the latest forecast.
“Storm Dennis will continue to bring disruptive weather early next week, and flood warnings will appear across much of England,” said Caroline Douglass, head of the agency’s flood service.
“We urge people to review the flood risk in their region and remain vigilant.”
Additional reporting from Press Associaton