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Clean-up continues in Cornwall

A major clean-up of Cornwall will continue for a second day as the flood-battered county recovers from devastating torrential rain.

Residents, businesses and council staff faced the task of removing flood water and inch-thick mud from homes, shops and streets after floods hit the county on Wednesday.

About 100 homes were evacuated by the emergency services after Devon and Cornwall Police declared a "major incident".

Forecasters predicted further showers in Cornwall and the South West throughout Thursday morning, but said they would become more isolated during the day before dying away in the evening.

The Environment Agency downgraded the number of flood warnings to three, and the number of flood watches to 13, following the early showers, which were less torrential and prolonged than 24 hours earlier. The warnings were issued on stretches of the River Clyst, Axe and Culm.

Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said flood waters were receding in Cornwall and the clean-up was under way. But he warned future flood defence works might be hampered by a tight funding settlement.

"You will never be able to guard against every contingency where the force of nature is operating in this sort of way," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Flood is always a traumatic thing for everyone whose home or business is affected in this way. The good news is that now the flood waters are receding in Cornwall and now the clean-up operation has to get under way."

On Wednesday, heavy rains and gale-force winds brought misery to St Austell, Lostwithiel, St Blazey, Bodmin, Par, Mevagissey and Luxulyan. Weather experts said Cardinham, on Bodmin, recorded 0.74in (18.8mm) of rain in one hour and 2in (50mm) in nine hours, and added that more rain was on the way.

There were no reports of serious injuries but scores of residents were evacuated from their homes, schools closed, the transport network hugely disrupted and train services stopped by a landslide at Lostwithiel. As a precaution police closed the 700-year-old bridge over the River Fowey in Lostwithiel as it had been battered for several hours by flood water and there were fears it might give way under the strain.

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