A St Davids artist based in Madeira has described the devastating scenes that forced him to flee his home.

Tony Kitchell has spent the winter months working on the south coast of the island in Paul do Mar.

He returns home every summer to run his art gallery with his partner, Rose.

In recent weeks Madeira has been smashed by torrential rain and flash floods, with at least 40 people being killed and more than 100 injured.

“It had been raining here for about ten weeks and then we had an incredible shower on the Saturday (the 20th)that proved the final straw,” said Tony.

“It was chaos, there were landslides and rocks falling everywhere.”

The couple remained in their home for three days, but Tony said they were left with no alternative but to pack up and leave.

“We had to get out while we could.

“There are only two roads out of Paul do Mar. One was completely blocked by rocks and trees so we could only use one route.”

He added that one person in the area of the village was killed in the floods.

At the time Tony was being visited by his friend Charlie Sime, who then accompanied the couple on a death-defying drive to Porto Moniz in the north of the island.

“It was terrifying,” said Charlie.

“We were driving through falling rocks and having to swerve around trees on the road.”

To make matters worse, neither Charlie nor Tony were able to contact friends and family back home, as areas of island lost all power and mobile phone reception for two days.

Charlie added: “When I was finally able to use my phone again loads of messages came through from people asking how I was.”

Charlie flew home as planned on Thursday, but only after a collapsed bridge meant a four hour journey to Funchal airport.

Tony and Rose are now in temporary accommodation, but Tony warned the situation was far from over.

“The damage has been devastating and there are still landslides and fallen trees everywhere,” he added when the Western Telegraph spoke to him last Saturday.

“Where we are now no-one has been harmed, but we still can’t enter or exit the place with any safety.

“The main roads are mostly open but some have been completely destroyed.

“I think it could take two or three years of reconstruction to get the island back to normal.”