By Andy Gardner
NORTH CURRY, England — Huddled in a blanket, a 90-year-old woman is saved from floods sweeping Britain.
Diana Mallows had been trapped in an upstairs bedroom for four days after shoulderhigh floodwaters poured in to her detached village home.
Her ordeal finally ended yesterday when firefighters carried her down by ladder and hauled her to safety in a rubber dinghy in North Curry, near Taunton.
"She lives alone and is very independent. She only came out because she was running out of food," said Andy Newland, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
"She's lived in that house on the Somerset Levels for 35 years and has seen flooding before - but never as bad as this.
"She is ex-Royal Navy and went through the war. She's a tough lady, a great character, the sort that makes you proud to be British. I believe she is now with a nephew in the village."
By last night the storms had claimed a second victim.
Kevin Wilkinson, 50, was feared drowned after being blown into the Grand Union canal in Watford in the early hours of yesterday following a night out with pals. A body was found later.
A man of 70 died after his 4x4 was swept away as he tried to cross a ford in Chew Stoke, Somerset, on Friday.
Thousands were saved by rescuers yesterday - but worse is on the way as a ferocious storm hurtles in from the Atlantic.
The Environment Agency issued 44 severe flood warnings last night.
Most at risk are Cornwall, Devon, North Somerset, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wales. Parts of the Midlands and Bristol also face torrential downpours.
Forecasters also issued 153 less severe flood warnings.
Last night the new storm was poised to hit the South-west and Wales, which is already reeling from days of rain. At least 1.5in of rain is expected in 24 hours with winds of up to 70mph.
The storm will then sweep across the country and into Scotland.
It could dump nearly 4in of rain over the next 72 hours.
That is equivalent to more than a month's worth for some parts of Britain. Helen Roberts, from the Met Office, said: "We predict more heavy rain and strong winds - and because of previous flooding there is an increased risk of rivers bursting their banks and drains becoming blocked."
The Environment Agency added: "Strong winds will increase the risk of flashflooding as drainage channels are likely to become blocked with wind-blown debris.
"The rain will spread north and east, increasing the flood risk in North-East and North-West England on Sunday."
Emergency teams worked through the weekend to shore up flood defences with temporary barriers, clear blockages and pump out floodwater. More than 400 properties have flood-ed since the deluge began on Tuesday. The Environment Agency warned 9,000 owners their properties risk flooding, too.
It said defences have protected 21,800 properties across England and Wales, including in Cheltenham, Teignmouth and Weston-super-Mare. The Grand Western canal at Halberton, near Tiverton, burst its banks on Wednesday. Rail services in the South-West were in chaos yesterday, with lines closed in several places between Bristol and Exeter.
Passengers were transferred to buses after cancellations in Exeter, Yeovil and Tiverton. Insurers say flood damage and disruption has cost £250million.
Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said: "The true cost is much higher due to uninsured costs plus knock-on effects like lost business and transport disruption."
There was further bad news, with the Met Office predicting a four-week cold snap up to Christmas. A spokesman said: "It will become cold into December with widespread overnight frosts and wintry showers."
Forecaster Brian Gaze, of TheWeatherOutlook, added: "It's likely many parts of Britain will see snow in the next two weeks, even in the South."
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