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The approach to the Tram crossing in Colyford. Photo by Terry Ife ref mhh 4669-47-12TI To order your copy of this photo go to www.midweekherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

AA’s busiest day ever for flood-related call-outs

Thursday, November 22, 2012
1.10 PM

And, after 4,600 breakdown call-outs this morning, it is expecting even more - as wet and windy weather moves in again.

Flood warnings

As at 1pm on Thursday, November 22, the Environment Agency had in place 33 flood warnings for the South West and a further 56 flood alerts.

Further updates will appear here - www.midweekherald.co.uk

After its busiest day ever for flood-related call-outs yesterday but, with more very wet and windy weather forecast for this afternoon, the AA is warning drivers to be prepared for further disruption on the roads.

By midnight last night, the AA had attended 804 cars driven through or stuck in flood water and its specialist water rescue Land Rover crews worked late into the night in the affected areas.

Nationwide, the AA has attended around 4,600 breakdowns so far today (as at noon), including 110 flood water-related call-outs, but it expects this to increase significantly when the bad weather hits later. Breakdowns are currently coming in at around 900 every hour and the AA expects to attend up to 13,000 for the day, compared to around 9,500 on an average Thursday.

Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “With the ground so saturated, flash flooding was a real issue yesterday with many people getting stuck. We alone attended 804 cars stuck in flood water, making it our busiest day ever for flooding call-outs but, unfortunately, today could be just as bad with more heavy rain forecast, particularly in western areas.

“Drivers really need to be careful and be prepared for sudden road closures. We also see some drivers plough into flood water, somewhat oblivious to the risks. Unfortunately, the air intake on modern cars is often quite low and it takes just a tiny amount of water entering it to wreck the engine. Stay out of flood water where possible, certainly if it’s moving or more than four inches deep.

“Yesterday our patrols reported seeing many people driving far too fast in the conditions. Stopping distances can increase significantly in the wet, so keep your speed down and maintain a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front. Bear in mind that surface water can mask dips in the road and potholes, which can catch you out.

“Surface spray is an issue too, so you must use your headlights if visibility is seriously reduced.”

The AA’s head of roads policy, Paul Watters says: “Highway drainage problems – just like faded road markings and potholes, which are also in the news today – are a menace for drivers.

“Autumn leaves and exceptional rainfall unsurprisingly lead to flooding but local road maintenance is often the poor relation when it comes to local spending and more should be invested in tracking, clearing and improving drainage systems. We also urge landowners to co-operate with highway authorities when flooding problems occur.”