HUNDREDS of residents spent the night in emergency shelters after being evacuated from their homes because of flash flooding.

Around 110 people in Morpeth, Northumberland, had to be rescued by boat last night when the River Wansbeck burst its banks.

Some were given just 30 seconds notice that they were being evacuated.

Rest areas were set up at King Edward VI School, where 240 people were taken, while another 50 sheltered at County Hall.

Three Northumbria Police officers had to be rescued after becoming stranded by two landslides on the A697, Powburn road near Alnwick. Officers attended the initial landslide, which was around ten feet high and 50 feet long, and was blocking the whole carriageway.

A second landslide behind them trapped the officers. No-one was hurt, but the officers had to be rescued by Northumberland Search and Rescue.

Seven severe flood warnings are in place this morning, two in Ponteland and four in Morpeth.

The Environment Agency has also issued a severe warning for the River Wear at Milburngate in Durham.

Properties around Orchard Drive, The Sands, Wearside Drive, Millburngate, Walkergate, Elvet Bridge, Elvet Waterside, Old Elvet City Boathouse and Maiden Castle are thought to be particularly at risk.

On Saturday Pickering Beck in Pickering, North Yorkshire, burst its banks, as did the the River Skerne at Haughton le Skerne, on the outskirts of Darlington. Kent Bridge in Neasham has been closed to traffic and pedestrians.

A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council said it may remain closed for some time because it would need to be assessed for damage by structural engineers.

Pickering has flooded seven times in the last nine years.

91-year-old Topsy Clinch only completed repairs to her cottage a month ago after being flooded in June last year.

She spent yesterday trying to move her furniture upstairs.

"I have been flooded five times since I moved here in 1975, and this will be the sixth," said Mrs Clinch.

"It is chaos but it won't get the better of me."

Four RNLI boats were called out to Pickering as a precaution, but were stood down at 3.50pm.

In nearby Kirkbymoorside, resident Lisa Young said she had spent Saturday morning brushing water away from her home in a desperate attempt to stop the floods entering the bungalow.

"We have been flooded twice in the last 18 months," she said.

Ms Young also criticised the response of the local authorities, saying council staff did not turn up with sandbags until 11am, when the worst of the flooding was at 7am.

But Chief Superintendent Javad Ali, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “We have ensured that measures are in place should people have to be evacuated from their homes.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue received 70 calls in the space of 24 hours on Saturday - three times more than usual - mainly to flooding in the Hawes, Colburn and Catterick areas.

In Catterick village, a severe flood warning was issued for Brough Beck, and residents were issued with sandbags. The warning was later downgraded.

The Cross Keys public house at Bellerby, near Leyburn, has been pumped out by fire crews, and residents were evacuated from the caravan park in Brompton on Swale.

Flooding has also been reported on the train line between Northallerton and Darlington, causing services to run at reduced speeds.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said the North East had a "serious amount of rain battering down".

She added: "The rain is moving very slowly so it could be sustained for a good few hours.

"It is very hard to say whether this situation will get worse or better."

A dedicated telephone line is in operation for residents in the Ryedale area of North Yorkshire who are affected by the floods.

Residents needing help should call 01653-600666.

For details on flood warnings in your area, call the Environment Agency floodline on 0845-988-1188.