The pilot of the rescue helicopter from R.N.A.S. Culdrose, first helicopter on the scene at 5.10 p.m. reported: “Pass to all emergency services, this is a Major Incident. We request all standby aircraft available and all available land based emergency services as we are in danger of losing Boscastle and all the people in it.”
During the afternoon of Monday 16th August 2004, heavy rainfall in north Cornwall caused a flash flood in the village of Boscastle on the north Cornwall coast. The first rainfall was recorded above Boscastle at about 12.30 p.m., with heavy rainfall over a concentrated area falling for the next hours. It is estimated that 1,422 million litres of rain fell in just two hours, with some areas in North Cornwall recording 200+ mm of rainfall between 11.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. The River Valency, which runs through the centre of the small village, quickly became a torrent and overflowed. An estimated three-metre depth of water poured through the village, washing away cars, damaging buildings, ripping up trees and trapping residents and tourists and leading to a major rescue operation.
About 200 people were rescued, 97 people were airlifted to safety by the six military helicopters. There were only 8 minor injuries reported, and no-one is known to have died. However, damage to properties and infrastructure was substantial.