TORRENTIAL rain wreaked havoc in parts of the North-East tonight. 

The owners of two cars had a lucky escape after their vehicles were washed into floodwaters and up to 60 people were evacuated from their homes in Redcar.

The most dramatic incident came at the foot of Saltburn Bank in East Cleveland around 7.30pm after a bridge was washed away.

At one point it led to the RNLI and the police helicopter being scrambled after it was feared that people may have been washed from the cars into the sea. This later proved to be unfounded.

Police and fire services dealt with a growing number of calls as heavy rain persisted into the night.

The Environment Agency issued numerous flood warnings and alerts across the region as the waters showed little sign of relenting.

Dave Cox, of Redcar RNLI, was involved in the incident at Saltburn. "Humber Coastguard received a call from Cleveland Police requesting RNLI assistance," he said.

"Initial reports were of two vehicles being swept into floodwater after a bridge had collapsed or had been swamped during the severe rainfall.

"There was no sign of the occupants of the vehicles at that time and there was concern that they may have been swept out to sea.

"Our crew assembled, but as they were preparing to launch the lifeboat, police and fire brigade officers at the scene were able to confirm that everyone was accounted for."

Mr Cox said that sea conditions had been horrendous all day, with northerly winds gusting at over 40mph at one point.

"It would have been a very difficult rescue operation, so we're very please that everyone has been found safe and well," he said.

Cathy Kelly, owner of the nearby Spa Hotel, said she had never known weather like it since she had been in the town.

"A couple of cars look like they have come off the road and were completely covered by the water," she said. "There were lots of ambulances and helicopters going over.

"It was awful. I have never seen anything like it at all."

She felt that some people had risked travelling through the flood water and had then found themselves stranded.

One driver unwilling to take on the flood waters was Nicola Theaker from Brotton, who was on her way to work at a residential home in Saltburn.

"I have tried to get to Brotton, I've tried Apple Orchard, I've tried to get near the Ship at Saltburn and I've tried Rushpool Hall way and I am stranded," she said. "I have been travelling since five past eight.

"They should really get it sorted out because this happens every time we have a really bad downpour."

Cleveland Fire and Rescue was inundated with calls for help, a spokeswoman saying they made the elderly the priority.

She said they helped numerous elderly residents across the East Cleveland area, with the social services being called in to assist on a couple of occasions.

Reports of flooding came in from Billingham, Guisborough, Marske, while a flood alert was issued for low lying land on the banks of the River Leven, including Great Ayton and Stokesley.

A further alert covered the lower River Wear from Escomb to Chester-le-street, including the rivers Browney, Cong Burn and Lumley Park Burn.

County Durham Fire and Rescue dealt with calls to Peterlee, Seaham and Fishburn.

In the Hartlepool area, Elwick village and the A19 was also badly affected by flooding and standing water.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said police had advised people not to make journeys unless necessary and if they must travel, to avoid driving into deep standing water and to drive at an appropriate speed.

"Between 50 and 60 households in the Mersey Road and St Josephs Court area of Redcar were evacuated by the Fire Brigade due to flooding," she said. "However, just one household has needed emergency accommodation from the Local Authority with the remainder moving in with family or friends. There are no reports of anyone unaccounted for or injured at this time."

Cleveland Fire Brigade, meanwhile, said that between 4pm and 10.40pm it received calls from 230 different locations, mainly in East Cleveland and Hartlepool.

A total of 200 of these came between 6pm and 9pm. Help came from colleagues in North Yorkshire and Durham and Darlington.

Around 20 people were rescued in more than ten locations from incidents where life was in immediate danger or there was a chance the rising water might lead it to be.

A spokeswoman said: "This included rescues from houses and vehicles and in some cases involved the brigade's rescue boat."

Do you own the silver Mercedes caught up in the floods in Saltburn? Call 01325-505065 or email