People hit by flooding face a bleak Christmas with a week of further rain threatening further holiday misery.

Large parts of the UK, mainly southern England and Wales, will see unsettled weather throughout the festive period, according to Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

Dozens of communities across the country have been affected by floods, with Lostwithiel in Cornwall and the area around Barnstaple in North Devon amongst the worst hit, along with parts of south Wales.

Homes have been flooded, leaving residents facing a clear up just before Christmas and emergency services rescued several people swept away in their cars.

Tony Conlan, a forecaster with Meteogroup, said while the rain would not be as heavy as that which has already fallen, it would be landing in areas already saturated with water.

"We certainly haven't heard the last of the flooding stories," he said. "There is no sign of settled weather on the way for at least the next week."

The Environment Agency still has one severe flood warning - meaning there is "danger to life" - in place this morning, for the River Cober at Helston in west Cornwall, after heavy rainfall overnight. There are 182 flood warnings, urging people to take immediate action, across the UK, with the most in the south west and the Midlands.

In Umberleigh, near Barnstaple in Devon, a woman was rescued by a lifeboat after she was swept away from her car in the early hours of today after flooding in the area.

A Devon and Cornwall Police helicopter found the woman clinging to branches of a tree on the banks of the swollen River Taw. She had been in a car with her husband and son when they were trapped by flood water.

Her husband and son were rescued by passers-by while the woman had tried to clamber to safety onto the top of the car but was swept away. She managed to grab hold of a branch and clung on while a police helicopter hovered overhead. Robin Goodlad, the RNLI's incident commander said the rescue had been an "heroic" effort.