The incident in the River Chew followed heavy rainfall and severe gales as winds reaching 100mph swept the country causing destruction. Disruptions to travel were reported with many rail services suspended and flights delayed.

Power lines were also brought down in many areas, leaving more than 100,000 homes in Scotland without power overnight. A man was also killed by an oak tree falling onto his van, while a second man was killed after his tanker was struck by a wave in the English Channel.

EA officers came to the aid of the woman, who had attempted to drive her Vauxhall Nova through a flooded ford when it was swept away, becoming lodged against a tree in the River Chew.

According to the EA, two officers from its operations delivery team, Dave White and Andy Moore, were in the area removing blockages from culverts and bridges to reduce the risk of flooding from rivers when they noticed the trapped car.

The officers waded in to the water and fitted the woman, who is unable to swim, with a life vest before pulling her to safety. They also secured the car with rope to prevent it moving further down river and causing flooding. The local fire and rescue service later cordoned off the road to prevent other cars from trying to cross the ford.

EA officer Dave White, said: “It was pure chance that we drove past the ford at the exact time the woman driver was getting into difficulty. We knew we had to act quickly or the car would have been swept away.

“Flood water can be dangerous and just two feet of flood water can float a car – so we would urge people not to drive or walk through flood waters.”

Met Office weather warnings are still in place in many parts of the country.

Carys Matthews

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