More than 40 people had to be rescued from homes and caravans today after serious floods hit west Wales.
Holidaymakers and residents were helped to safety in a large-scale rescue operation mounted by fire crews, coastguard lifeboats and military helicopters when water swept through caravan parks and villages near Aberystwyth.
Three people were airlifted by Royal Air Force Sea King helicopters from the Riverside Caravan Park in Llandre and dozens took shelter in a community centre in Talybont.
Chief Inspector Robin Mason, of Dyfed Powys Police, said it was difficult to give an exact number of those rescued, but said he was “aware of about 30 to 40 people evacuated from various places” and there were “probably more”.
He told the BBC: “When caravan parks have about 2ft of water, people have been able to make their own way in an orderly manner. Since dawn, a lot of people have decided to leave by their own accord.”
He said some people were trapped in buildings, but added: “However, they are upstairs. We have emergency rescue teams in the area with inflatables and we are in the process of evacuating people.”
Fire service rescue boats and vehicles joined inshore lifeboats to help stranded people escape from the Riverside Caravan Park.
A Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said emergency services were called at around 3am and there was “a large amount of water and a heavy current running through the caravan park”.
Nearby Mill House Caravan Park at Dol-y-Bont was also flooded, and around a dozen people needed rescuing.
Pat Edwards, 56, whose partner runs Mill House Caravan Park, said they had not seen flooding like it in 50 years.
But she said the three groups of guests currently staying at the site had decided to stick the weather out.
She said: “The helicopter has come over and offered to rescue us. At the moment we’ve got three families here. One is staying in their caravan and two couples are upstairs with us.
“We’ve got an escape route planned if necessary, if we need to we can climb up the bank and get picked up by the helicopter.”
She said the downstairs of her house was flooded with about 8in of water but it was now going down.
She added: “We got a lot of our stuff out of the way, but things like the sofa are ruined.”
The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said there were around 75 fire service personnel in the area, in 15 fire appliances and three or four fire boats.
About 4-5ft of water was flowing through the main street in Talybont, where about 30 people were sheltering in the community hall and a pub after being rescued.
The spokesman said people were waiting to be evacuated from around 25 more properties.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said Milford Haven Coastguard was contacted by Dyfed Powys police at 4.30am requesting assistance at a caravan park at the side of the River Lery near Borth.
Aberystwyth and Borth Coastguard rescue teams were called out as well as the Borth RNLI inshore lifeboat.
A rescue helicopter was also requested and sent to the scene, the MCA said in a statement.
The rescue teams helped 20 people from their caravans, and two of them needed help from ambulance crews because of mobility difficulties.
The statement added there was concern for others at other caravan parks further down the river and coastguard rescue teams were deployed to them.
George Crumpler, Cambrian sector manager, said: “We responded to the request for assistance and are evacuating those at risk with the help of the other emergency services.”