SOUTH Lakeland was left with a mammoth clean-up operation after torrential rain caused flash floods.

Eight patients were evacuated at St Mary’s Hospice in Ford Park Crescent, Ulverston, last Thursday as staff found themselves ankle deep in water.

Chief executive Sue McGraw said it was an ‘horrendous experience’.

“What is normally a tranquil garden was turned into a raging torrent of water with rubble washed down Hoad Hill like Niagara Falls,” she said.

“We evacuated because we were fearful of the water getting in and electrocuting a patient.”

A mountain rescue team helped move some patients in a 4x4, while ambulances followed when water on the roads had subsided.

Some were moved to St John’s Hospice, Lancaster, while Furness General Hospital opened a bay for patients, and the rest were cared for at home. Patients were able to return earlier this week.

Rascals Neighbourhood Nursery in Lund Terrace, Ulverston, is facing a five-month closure after a foot of water caused extensive damage.

Owner Alex Mitton said: “It’s been a nightmare. It was just horrible with thick mud. Lanternhouse is going to let us use their children’s centre until we can reopen. We are extremely grateful.”

Dalton woman Tina Woodend described the terrifying experience of her car being trapped in flood waters while dozens of other drivers sped past without helping.

She was on her way home from Kendal when her car broke down on the A592 between Bowness and Storrs.

“I got to the middle of this huge puddle and it just conked out,” she said.

“I panicked because other drivers were going past, just missing my car by centimetres, at stupid speeds. I’d never been so frightened and called the police.”

She was helped by a driving instructor who towed her to a lay-by.

Furness Abbey was left standing in water up to 18 inches deep.

Stuart Priss from Barrow, who saw the water rushing towards the ruins, said: “It was just like looking at a lake, with waterfalls going into the abbey.”

English Heritage said it was keeping an eye on the site after concerns over possible damaged.

“We appreciate some residents are concerned about the impact this may have on the abbey, but wish to reassure them that the ruins themselves do not appear to be affected by the recent flooding events.

“We will continue to monitor this and take every possible step to minimise the impact of flooding.”

Cumbria Fire and Rescue was kept busy across the region, carrying out rescues, and pumping water from properties, while there were flood alerts across the Furness Peninsula, Ulverston and Coniston.

Flooding also hindered the emergency services in routine calls.

Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team was called in to help evacuate a woman who had been taken ill at home in Windermere when flooding rendered the roads impassable for an ambulance.

And engineers from Electricity North West were held up by flooded roads as they tried to fix a power outage to 160 homes in Kirkby-in-Furness.

Rail passengers were also left stranded as trains between Barrow, Carlisle and Lancaster were cancelled.

The Met Office has said as December arrives, the weather will turn colder with some wintry showers next week.