People had to be evacuated from their homes and cars today as flash floods caused chaos in the south west.
Heavy rain and torrential downpours crippled Cornwall and left swathes of the county completely cut off.
Flooding from nearby hills, as opposed to the sea, which locals are more familiar with, saw people trapped in their homes and 10 schools evacuated.
Helicopters were drafted in from RNAS Culdrose and RMB Chivenor as people had to be ferried to safety as up to three inches of rain deluged the region in the early hours of yesterday.
The Met Office and the Environment Agency issued severe weather warnings as up to 50mm of rain was expected to spark further floods.
Falmouth Coastguard rushed to the harbour at Portloe after a car was washed into the harbour by powerful torrents at around 6am.
The main train line into the region was also blocked after torrential rain caused a landslide on the tracks at Lostwithiel.
Drivers were forced to abandon their cars at the roadside as floodwater up to six feet deep were reported by drivers.
One of the worst affected areas was St Blazey, where residents were left trapped in their homes and roads were blocked.
Other affected areas include Bodmin, St Austell, Par, and Luxulyan.
Cornwall Council said fire crews have been deployed and police were advising motorists to drive with extreme caution.
Peter Tatlow, from Cornwall Highway Services, said although a severe weather warning was issued by the Met Office on Tuesday, it was ”almost impossible” to keep gullies clear of leaves and debris at this time of year.
Ken Bazely, of Falmouth Coastguard, said: ”People were left in their cars and some had to be rescued from their homes after properties and roads were flooded.
”At the moment we’re doing everything we can to ensure roads are safe and no-one is trapped in their vehicle or property.
”Many roads are cut off and we would urge people not to attempt to travel.”
Police today described the flooding as a ”major incident” and said they had set up ”silver command” as residents cars were washed away by the raging torrents.
A nerve centre had been set up in Truro, Cornwall in a bid to co-ordinate air support as people were ferried from their cars and homes in the early hours.
A spokesman said: ”We have now declared this a major incident and have gone to silver command.
”Areas of St Austell and St Blazey became impassable and people were trapped in their cars and homes, although we have so far received no reports of any injury or casualties.
”We have been working with the coastguard and fire service to ensure residents’ welfare and the area be made safe as quickly as possible.”
Melissa Chapman, 34, of St Blazey, Cornwall, said: ”We woke up to the sound of helicopters at around 6am and saw flood water virtually right at the front door.
”Some had to be rescued from their homes. I’ve never seen anything like it. It had stopped raining fairly early on but there was a huge amount of standing water in the road which has caused huge problems.
”It looks as though the culverts and drains became blocked with leaves.
”There were tidal waves lapping at my front door as people drove past.”
Retired waitress Linda Dorling, 67, of Lostwithiel said: ”All the cars were underwater at one point. One car floated off on its own and hit into some others.
”Plenty of homes have been completely flooded and I feel terrible for my neighbours who have water in their homes.
”It’s an absolute nightmare. We can’t even open the front gate to get out onto the street.”
Ceiling fitter Neil Adams, 37, said his Peugeot 306 floated off down the street and became trapped.
He added: ”I woke up this morning to go to work and when I looked out of the window it was clear that I wasn’t going anywhere.
”My car had floated off sideways and got jammed between two others. I would imagine it is ruined. We’re fearing the worst.”
Kim Barker, landlady of Crown Inn pub near the village of Penpillick. between St Austell and Lostwithiel. said: ”It’s absolutely awful, really horrendous. I got a phonecall about 6am from one of my locals who was concerned.
”I came down in to the pub and there was water in our lounge and kitchen.
”We’re not anywhere nearly as bad as people further down the village though – they’re at waist level in their houses. They are in an awful state.
”Their properties are a lot further down the hill and their appliances are floating around them.
”For me, we’ve got it in the bottom lounge and kitchen. There was no warning though, the weather wasn’t good last night but nothing like this.”
Over a dozen secondary and primary schools in the area also had to be closed – as did the Eden Project – as flood water left many roads unpassable.
Alex Williams, owner of the Bayview Guest House in Mevagissey, was equally worried about people she knows might be in danger.
She said: ”It’s just overflowing in the harbour here. There’s just a load of muddy water flowing through roads and houses.
”The rain stopped at about half six this morning. It’s come down off the hills, and is catching up with us here.
”We don’t usually get flooding from the hills. It’s the sea we’re more used to.
”I’ve not heard off anyone specifically trapped but there is a lot of high water down there in the harbour.
”I’ve got a shop down there and I need and check if it’s ok.”