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Mother and daughter killed during Storm Babet named by police

Two women who died following a collision on the M4 on Friday during Storm Babet have been named by Wiltshire Police as mother and daughter, Cheryl Woods, 61, and Sarha Smith, 40, of Caerphilly, South Wales.

The two were pronounced dead after a lorry crushed their car, near Chippenham in north-west Wiltshire on the morning of 20 October.

The heavy goods vehicle was overturned as Storm Babet battered the county with heavy wind and rain, causing dangerous driving conditions.

Three other vehicles were also involved in the crash.

In a tribute, their family wrote: “Cheryl Woods, cherished by those in her life, fulfilled the roles of a loving mother, doting grandmother, cherished sister, and a dear friend.

“Her selflessness was a defining trait, consistently prioritising her family’s well-being over her own, and she took immense pride in her Welsh heritage while nurturing a deep love for nature.

“Sarha Smith, in the footsteps of her mother, unselfishly devoted herself to her family’s needs ahead of her own.

“She was not only a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, but her absence leaves a void for those who relied on her radiant presence.

“Her legacy lives on through her six daughters, who will forever hold her memory close and strive to honour her with their efforts.”

DERBY, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 21: In this aerial view cars are flooded at a car dealership in the Pentagon area of Derby after the River Derwent burst its banks during storm Babet on October 21, 2023 in Derby, United Kingdom. Weather warnings are in place in Scotland and England as Storm Babet sweeps the country. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
In this aerial view cars are flooded at a car dealership in the Pentagon area of Derby after the River Derwent burst its banks during storm Babet on October 21, 2023 in Derby, United Kingdom (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

So far, a total of at least seven people are now known to have died in Storm Babet:

  • Ms Woods and Ms Smith were killed on Friday morning
  • Maureen Gilbert, 83, was found dead in her flooded home in Chesterfield on Saturday
  • A man in his sixties died on Saturday after being swept away in floodwater when a brook breached in Shropshire
  • Wendy Taylor, 57, was confirmed dead after being swept away by a swollen river in Glen Esk in Scotland on Thursday
  • John Gillan, 56, died when a tree fell on his van near Forfar in Angus on Thursday
  • The body of a man was recovered following reports of someone trapped in a vehicle in Aberdeenshire on Friday (formal identification is yet to take place)

Storm Babet hit the UK last week, flooding 1,250 properties and leaving hundreds of Britons homeless.

The storm, which hit Northern Ireland and Scotland before moving south, left entire communities cut off, with the whole town of Brechin forced to evacuate.

A total of 13 areas broke their daily rainfall records for October last week, including sites in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South and North Yorkshire.

Some of these areas are now expected to be affected by more flooding as the Met Office forecasted a fresh deluge of rain to fall until 4pm on Tuesday.

They renewed their warning of a “danger to life”, due to “fast flowing or deep floodwater”.

Paul Gilbert, who found his 80-year-old mother dead in her home over the weekend, told Sky News: “The country can’t take the amount of water that comes down. We should be able to survive for 24 hours of rain. It shouldn’t get ever this bad.

“The rivers should be clean, they should be dredged, they should be widened, they should be cleaned out.”

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said there will be a “long road to recovery” for those impacted by Storm Babet as he visited the town on Monday.

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