Hundreds of sheep have been drowned and property flooded in East Devon overnight, where freak weather caused the River Otter to burst its banks.

The Met Office reckoned more than 100mm of rain and hail fell between 6.00pm yesterday (29 October) and 8.00 this morning – almost the entire monthly average rainfall in just one night.

“There are two feet of hail on the ground and the river has burst its banks,” said Met Office spokeswoman Helen Chivers.

Dawn Venner, senior group secretary at the NFU’s East Devon office in Honiton, said the phone had not stopped ringing all morning.

“There is a vast flooding problem in the East Devon area – livestock have been washed away and fencing has disappeared.”

One farmer had lost 115 sheep and the total losses could be as high as 500 head, she said.

Properties had also been badly flooded, local roads closed, and an evacuation centre set up at the local hospital.

“It’s the worst flooding I can remember since I’ve been here – and that’s over 10 years.”

Parts of Cornwall had also been flooded, and the Environment Agency had issued flood warnings for the Rivers Otter, Axe, Clyst, Coly, Culm, and Yarty.

The Met Office said the worst of the rain had now passed, leaving a forecast of scattered showers across the south west.