THE torrential rain hammering much of Britain has showed no signs of letting up, with residents in one village on the verge of being evacuated from their homes.
North Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West and East Sussex, south-east Wales and Northamptonshire were singled out as the areas most at risk of floods.
Successive bands of rain sweeping across the country have also prompted warnings that the road and rail networks could be hit at the start of the festive getaway.
Southern and south-western England have been the worst affected areas, with deluges leading to more than an inch of rainfall in some places, but the weather has also put parts of North Yorkshire on flood alert.
Six pumps are being moved into the Malton and Norton area over the next 24 hours as water levels continue to rise after prolonged rainfall.
The Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and Ryedale District Council are providing two pumps each and North Yorkshire County Council also has pumps in readiness.
The police and fire service were on standby last night as water levels were expected to rise in the Derwent catchment area with more rainfall forecast over the weekend. However, it is not anticipated that river and ground water levels will rise as high as they did during flooding last month.
North Yorkshire has been hit by flooding twice in recent months and yesterday flood warnings were in place at a number of places including the River Nidd at Knaresborough caravan parks and Bishop Monkton Beck at Bishop Monkton.
Forecasters warned that up to an inch could fall over Cornwall last night, causing further havoc in areas where the ground is already saturated.
Residents in 55 homes in Wallington, Hampshire, were offered the chance to evacuate by police amid fears that the River Wallington could burst its banks, but only three had chosen to do so by last night.
The Environment Agency has 241 flood alerts and 53 flood warnings in place, while there is one severe flood warning in place in Wallington. The most severe alert, it is described as being a “danger to life” on the agency’s website.
It is feared that the latest bout of wet weather could cause further disruption as millions of people head off on their festive getaway today.
The roads, railways and airports are expected to be clogged up on what is predicted to be the busiest day of the escape over the festive period. The torrential rain could leave more homes under water and cause disruption on the road and rail networks, the Environment Agency said.
John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency, said: “With a very busy travel weekend coming up, we would also ask that people check their route before travelling, and remember not to drive or walk through floodwater.”
Today Heathrow is expecting its busiest day of the festive period, with 123,000 passengers flying out.
The airport will handle a further 114,000 departures on Sunday and 88,000 on Christmas Eve. From tomorrow until January 3, a total of 700,000 passengers will be leaving from Gatwick Airport, 320,000 from Manchester, 300,000 from Stansted, 125,000 from Luton, 116,000 from Birmingham and 75,000 from Glasgow.
Travel organisation Abta said popular overseas spots for New Year revellers included Paris, Reykjavik, Rome, Dublin and New York.
Many hundreds of thousands will also travel across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with 160,000 heading off on high-speed trains run by Eurostar.
The AA said the busiest days were expected to be today and tomorrow, with 60 per cent of its members set to take to the roads over the festive period.