U.K. flooding causes traffic gridlock, widespread damage

Hundreds of people trapped on rooftops in several of Britain's towns and villages were rescued by helicopter and boat Saturday.

Hundreds of people trapped on rooftops in several British towns and villages were rescued by helicopter and boat Saturday.

Two cars are left stranded after torrential rain caused flash flooding on a road in south London Friday. A band of severe weather hit southern and central England and Wales. ((Sang Tan/Associated Press))

Thousands of others were left in emergency shelters after more than a month's worth of rain hit parts of Britain in several hours Friday. Forecasters predict more rain throughout the weekend.

Royal Air Force helicopters helped more than 100 people from rooftops. About 2,000 people in Gloucestershire, a county in southwest England, spent Friday night in emergency shelters.

"These are the sorts of rainfalls that we experienced in the past every 100 years, every 150 years, sometimes every 200 years— they're very extreme," Baroness Barbara Young, chief executive of Britain's environment agency, told Sky News.

Hundreds ofdrivers were strandedFriday evening after the M5 motorway near Worcester in the Midlandswas closed due to flooding.

Traffic was at a standstillfor most of the night and some people slept in their cars before the gridlockclearedon Saturday.

Britainhad double its usual rainfall in June and forecasters say it appears the country will have the wettest July on record.

Forecasters said areas in and around Worcester and Gloucester received 83 millimetres of rainfall in just a few hours.Average rainfall for the whole of July is about 33 millimetres.

The torrential rains forced about 2,000people with flooded homes to spend the night in emergency centres inGloucestershire.

OnSaturday, rescuers worked non-stop, airlifting people to safety because bridges and roads were washed out.

Firefightershad to rescue children at a primary school in Worcesterafter water flowed into their building.

Vacationerswere also airlifted to safety from trailerparks close to the river in Evesham, between Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

Flooding is widespreadin low-lying areasfrom Wales across to southwest England andthe Midlands.

BBC reporter Wyre Davies spoke toCBC Newsworldon Saturday as he walked knee-deep in water through the village of Powick, not far from Worcester.

"Every single house on the main street is flooded, past the ground floor, halfway up to the first floor," he said, addingthe village has been flooded three timesin as many weeks.

In the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon, 160 kilometresnorthwest of London, water rushed through the streets and into the basement of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

With files from the Associated Press