Body found at site of collapsed house is named, drivers rescued as heavy rain brings floods to Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall
A WOMAN killed after a landslide in Looe has been named by police as 68-year-old Susan Norman.
The Coroner has been informed and an investigation is being managed jointly between Devon and Cornwall Police and the Health and Safety Executive.
Work is currently on-going to make the area of Sandplace Road, Looe, safe, in order to allow further specialist examinations to take place following the incident on Friday.
It is believed the house, named Veronica, which had been split three flats, will be demolished.
The deluge is believed to have caused the collapse of the house.
Susan Norman, in her 60s, had not been seen since her flat, part of the property in Sandplace Road, Looe, was reduced to a pile of rubble.
She lived in one of six flats at the rear of the building which collapsed in the early hours following torrential rain.
A hunt to find her began after neighbours called the emergency services at 5.45am.
Search and rescue teams, including sniffer dogs and specialist fire officers, were called to the scene.
It is understood there had been a previous landslip at the address in December.
Her neighbours revealed she had warned authorities the property was at serious risk of flood damage - and even predicted it would collapse.
Sally Marsh, 49, a barber who lives a few doors away, said: "I have never seen anything like this.
"The problem is we have been telling the highways agency that this was going to happen for years."
Ms Norman, who lived alone, was last seen at 6pm on Thursday evening.
As a result of the landslip six other properties in the street were evacuated. Elsewhere Trevol Road in Torpoint was partially blocked by a fallen tree and in Crownhill part of Tavistock Road was flooded.
A collapsed sewer collapse led to temporary lights being put up in Ridgeway near the George Lane junction whilst emergency repairs were carried out.
Surface water on many roads made for hazardous driving conditions.
In Modbury clear ups were taking place after were Jubilee Bridge collapsed on Thursday night following heavy rain. South Hams District Council were advising people to stay away from the area.
Parts of Priory Drive in Plympton also suffered from the heavy rain.
The Environment Agency said flood alerts had been put in place but only as a "precaution" and were likely to be removed this morning.
Plymouth City Council said yesterday they had no reported flooding incidents.
The River Erme yesterday
Following the news that Mrs Norman had gone missing, a Cornwall Council spokesman said: "“his is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing woman. The Council is working with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive to carry out a thorough investigation into the cause of the landslip”.
Residents were evacuated to a nearby hall following the collapse as the property.
Cornwall Councillor Armand Toms said the house collapse is near the site of the previous landslip.
He said: "About 50 yards from the previous landslip there's been another fall and it's pushed the house forward and damaged it - it's in a pretty precarious position.''
Six other properties in the street were evacuated as a precaution and Looe's Guildhall was used as a temporary shelter.
Road closures included the B3253 and the A387 and diversions were also in place following the floods.
Pete Temlett, 59, a retired police officer who lives two doors down from Mrs Norman, described what happened at 5am yesterday morning.
He said: "Another neighbour, a young lad, was ringing my doorbell. I instantly realised something was wrong.
"He said his house had collapsed and I thought he meant a wall at the back had fallen down and he was over-reacting.
"I went down there and it was like an open dolls house, the windows were pinging, cracking and I could hear movement on the walls still.
"He has managed to clamber out of his flat. The building was creaking and if he hadn’t got out then he would have been dead, without any doubt at all, he is lucky to be alive.
"I knew there was a lady on the bottom flat but there was no way I could have gone in because if I would have opened a door then I could have caused her injury.
"The house is leaning forward where the soil has pushed it and this is just dreadful what has happened today, truly dreadful.
"I think she is in the house still and they are trying to rescue her but they can’t go in until it is safe obviously.
"I only know her to say hello to and the occasional chat, she is a very nice, pleasant lady, very polite.
"She had a son and a daughter who were here this morning but she lived on her own. We have all been evacuated and there is lots of fire and rescue services down there now.
"I am extremely angry that this was totally unnecessary, highways were aware of this and the damage the water was causing.
"All the drains are blocked and we have been reporting these for years, this woman should not have been in this predicament.
"When I walked out the back of my house this morning there were workers who had been told to get out and empty the drains that had been filled for years.
"It is like they were trying to clean up the scene of a crime, it is just disgraceful, I can't believe they are actually doing that after what we have been saying for so long.
"Damage has been done before to someone else's property and the council have paid out, although they are just burying their heads in the sand, they could have avoided this."
Kay Lundy, 51, who runs the Woodland guesthouse behind where the house collapsed, said she has never seen anything like it in the 15 years she has lived in the area.
She said: "The house was actually moving.
"We have been telling the highways for years, since last November this is our third landslide, they have totally neglected us and they couldn’t care less what people say to them.
"All they want to do is do it on the cheap all the time and not look into the depth of the problem.
"This has made me very worried, we have woods behind us, rain comes down our road like a torrent and that is due to the bad drainage.
"The water goes to the back of those houses because they have no gardens and it weakens it more and more and more until something like this happens.
"The rain is not going away from the area it is just hitting those houses, I have never seen rain like it coming down the road in 15 years.
"We are just keeping our fingers crossed that she is taken out safe and sound."
A police spokesman said: "At around 5.45am emergency services attended Sandplace Road in Looe following a report of a house collapse.
"A building comprising of flats has partially collapsed following a landslide at the rear of the property."
All train services to and from Looe have also been suspended.
Two people were rescued from cars in floodwater in separate incidents in Plymouth and firecrews are handing out sandbags after hours of heavy rain.
And firecrews were sent to multiple reports of flooding in Ashburton.
Part of the road has collapsed outside Ashburton Primary School.
The Met Office issued an amber warning for heavy rain and high wind covering Plymouth.
There is a flood alert in place for the Lower and Middle Tamar, the Plym, the Lynher, the Tavy, the Yealm, the Looe and other local rivers and waterways.
The Agency is monitoring river levels and expected to issue flood alerts and possibly flood warnings.
The Environment Agency updates its flood guidance every 15 minutes on its website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx, and you can follow the Environment Agency on Twitter at @EnvAgencySW
Met Office weather forecasts and warnings can be found at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/ and you can follow the Met Office on Twitter at @metoffice and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/metoffice