Homes and roads have been left underwater as heavy downpours caused widespread disruption across Britain.
Vehicles were abandoned and there were reports of entire villages being cut off as flood water surged through lanes and streets and into homes.
Emergency services were also called to a flooded property to help rescue a woman who had gone into labour and needed to get to hospital.Dozens of schools were closed and businesses including pubs and restaurants forced to turn away customers following the floods.
In some cases, more than two inches of rain fell overnight, with heavy clouds clearing for brighter spells on Wednesday afternoon in much of the worst-hit areas such as Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
But forecasters warned it was only a temporary reprieve, with parts of England and Wales braced for further deluges this week, allied with gusty winds.
Helen Rossington, forecaster with MeteoGroup - the meteorological arm of the Press Association - said the effect of the overnight rainfall was made worse by recent wet weather.
"We tend to get this sort of weather in autumn, but it has fallen on to already-saturated ground which has caused the flooding," she said. "There was a lot of rain overnight, mostly in the Devon area, while other places have had as much as one inch. But we're expecting more rain and it will become more windy into Thursday. The rainfall will cause yet more problems."
The Environment Agency put more than 200 flood warnings and alerts in place on Wednesday, mostly in the south west of England and the Midlands.
There is a weather warning for Thursday for south-western England and south-east Wales, with a band of rain coming through of 20-40mm (0.8-1.6 inches) and up to 60mm (2.4 inches) in the worst-hit areas, and winds with gusts of up to 50-60mph.
A weather warning for heavy rain and strong and gusty winds is also in place for western Scotland with warnings of possible flooding. At the Port of Dover in Kent, winds gusting to Force 8 caused disruption to all cross-Channel ferry crossings on Wednesday afternoon.