A HISTORIC market town in Northumberland has begun to flood after a river broke its banks, police said.
Homes were evacuated in Morpeth prior to the River Wansbeck breaching local flood defences.
Northumbria Police said they are working with the local authority to help people affected and a rest centre at the town hall has been set up.
Officers were positioned along the river at various points to monitor the situation. Large tree trunks and debris were being swept along by the river as it continued to rise. Around 90 residents from the Dawson Place area of the town were evacuated as a precaution.
Chief inspector Sarah Pitt said: ``We are getting a number of calls about road closures and localised flooding - the situation is changing all the time. We are working with local authorities across the force and partner agencies and monitoring local rivers and areas at risk."
Meanwhile, rain caused flooding on roads across Tyneside and County Durham ahead of the main morning rush to work. Flooding affected the A19 around Wingate, the A66 Sadberge to Cleveland, as well as smaller roads around Derwentside, Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield.
Heavy rain also hit major routes including the A1 northbound between the Coal House roundabout and Lobley Hill at Gateshead, the A19 around the Testos roundabout in South Tyneside and smaller routes in North Tyneside. Network Rail reported there were no train services between Newcastle and Edinburgh because of the heavy rain, and passengers would be diverted via Carlisle.
The emergency services used lifeboats to rescue residents stranded in their homes. Teams of water rescue specialists from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were called in to carry out the rescue operation.
An estimated 40 people were helped from their homes into the boats. But some residents refused to leave and chose to remain upstairs in their properties.
At first the authorities thought a second surge of water may have been on its way but they now believe the river may continue to subside.
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