IT has been a wet start to 2014 in Mid Devon with heavy rain and widespread flooding causing havoc and disruption for the second week running.

The Environment Agency issued a flood warning on Wednesday afternoon, urging hundreds of people across the region to prepare for imminent flooding.

Flood alerts quickly upgraded to flood warnings on the Lower Culm between Cullompton and Stoke Canon, urging householders to take immediate action.

There were also warnings for the River Bathern at Bampton, and the River Clyst between Broadclyst and Clyst St Mary.

The rain also caused massive travel disruption with train services between Tiverton Parkway and Exeter St David’s delayed by up to 15 minutes and trains forced to run at reduced speeds.

The weather has also had tragic consequences – a woman who was thought to be on holiday in the region died after getting into difficulty in the sea – and a man was declared missing after going for a paddle off a Cornish beach.

Devon and Cornwall Police, and Her Majesty’s Coastguard, have appealed to local residents and visitors not to enter the sea during the bad weather.

A police spokesman said: “There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may under-estimate the danger a rough sea can pose.

“In the current bad weather we’d appeal to everyone to use common sense and not put themselves in unnecessary danger.

“In addition, people who enjoy walking on beaches and in rocky areas should take care not to allow themselves or their pets to get to close to the waves.

“Though we haven’t had any recent instances there have been occasions when large waves have washed people and animals into the water, resulting in deaths.”