The River Wye floods onto surrounding lowlands near Ross-on-Wye.

London -

Winds and rain across Britain are spelling a winter washout for many before the Christmas holiday, with rail travel disrupted and several people plucked from the floodwaters.

Residents in Braunton, in southern England, saw their village's new flood defenses wiped out as the River Caen burst its banks. In the nearby village of Umberleigh, a woman was rescued by a lifeboat team after clinging to the branches of a tree for nearly an hour.

The Environment Agency had 150 flood alerts in place late on Sunday, mainly in southwest and central England. Northeast Scotland was also affected. - Sapa-AP