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Woman escapes as tree crushes taxi

A taxi passenger who was injured when a tree crashed into a cab during a freak storm had a very lucky escape, her husband has said.

June Stephenson, 57, was in the back of a taxi in Hull waiting for her husband Martin to get in when a tree fell on to the vehicle during a sudden burst of extreme weather the couple said was "like a tornado".

The damage in Hull was one of a number of flooding and wind-related incidents yesterday as the effects of ex-Hurricane Bertha moved across England and Wales.

Stormy conditions spread north overnight as driving rain and winds of up to 50mph swept through northern England and Scotland.

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for rain - which means "be aware" - covering large parts of Scotland today.

Mrs Stephenson suffered minor injuries to her arms and face in the incident in Hopewell Road, in Hull, which left a trail of uprooted trees, damaged roofs and flooding.

Her husband said they were just preparing to go out for a family celebration when the winds suddenly whipped up.

"We rang for a taxi," Mr Stephenson, 55, said.

"It was raining at the time and she ran to the car.

"We were going to meet my daughter for her anniversary. It was very windy but, as I locked the back door I could see there were some panels flying about and the sound of the wind changed.

"I came round the front to see the car was buried by the three trees.

"The wife was in the car and I didn't actually know what had happened."

Mr Stephenson said his wife went back to hospital today to have glass removed from her arm.

He said: "It had come and gone in a matter of 15 or 20 seconds. It was all over with.

"As she was getting in, just as she shut the door, the tree's actually come down on top of her, on top of the car."

Mr Stephenson said the taxi driver, a friend of his, was trapped inside but was not injured.

"It's very, very, lucky," he said.

"We've never had this before. I've seen it windy before, I've seen these (trees) what was there, I've seen them bend and sway but they've just got snapped off, just straight across the road to the car - powerful, very powerful."

Mr Stephenson said: "It was like a tornado."

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said crews dealt with a number of flooding incidents in the Filey area last night.

A pump was brought in from Scarborough after water levels overwhelmed the on-site pumping facilities at the Primrose Valley holiday park.

A spokesman said around 22 properties were affected by flooding at the nearby village of Hunmanby Gap.

Crews from Scarborough and Filey used a range of pumps to reduce water levels, he said.

While Wales and many parts of England were left drenched yesterday, it was the turn of northern parts to endure the unpleasant conditions today.

The town of Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, recorded more than a month's rainfall in the past 24 hours, with 100mm (4ins) falling by 9am today.

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire saw gusts of 50mph.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) issued 38 flood warnings, indicating flooding is expected, and seven flood alerts, where flooding is possible.

The Environment Agency issued four flood warnings and 30 flood alerts across England and Wales.

Met Office forecaster Charles Powell said: "There has been quite a lot of heavy rainfall in northern Scotland today.

"The rest of the UK has been left with a breezy day. We've had quite a few showers. Some of those have been heavy, but because of the strength of the wind they are moving through quite quickly.

"For August, it's relatively unseasonable in terms of the rain.

"The low pressure will stick around until at least tomorrow, if not Wednesday.

"We're going to have to wait until Thursday or Friday before we see something more settled. It's a slow, gradual improvement through the week."

In Scotland, motorists were warned to expect disruption and Transport Scotland - alongside its partners, including the local authorities, Sepa and Police Scotland - said it was monitoring the situation closely to ensure it was well prepared for the conditions.

Traffic Scotland operator manager Stein Connelly said drivers in parts of the North East and Highlands and Islands were likely to face difficult road conditions due to heavy rain.

He said: "We would advise people in these areas to prepare for some travel disruption and to allow extra time for their journeys. They should also check the relevant websites for up-to-date travel information."

Zoe and Wayne Ritchie said their home in Norland Avenue, Hull, was flooded for the second time in five weeks yesterday.

Mrs Ritchie said the water very quickly rose to kerb level.

"Within another five or 10 minutes it was down the garden and coming in, really quickly," she said.

The couple said the water level began to reduce within about 45 minutes of firefighters arriving with pumps.

But Mrs Ritchie said the flood has left a stinking mess in her home.

She said: "Knowing that this street floods quite a lot, something should have been done about these drains. Obviously they can't take the water. Every time it rains it tends to pool.

"A t the end of the day it's people's homes, people's belongings and the upheaval. It's not fair."


From Belfast Telegraph