Flood warnings still in place as Sussex mops up

Flooding in Malthouse Lane, Burgess Hill
Flooding in Malthouse Lane, Burgess Hill

THE Environment Agency this morning had 42 flood warnings still in place for the south east as Sussex mops up after torrential rain overnight on Sunday caused chaos across the county.

The brunt of the heavy rains was felt in West Sussex with a number of roads closed in the Arun and Chichester districts.

The key arterial road across Sussex, the A27 between Chichester and Havant, was closed in both directions as motorists were diverted around villages themselves covered in at least a foot high of flood water. There were tailbacks of at least 12 miles along this busy stretch of road. The A29, the A259 at Bognor, the A272 at Petworth and the A280 at Long Furlong, Patching, were also closed to motorists. The A22 at East Grinstead was also severely affected.

Among numerous flood warnings in place for the region, one remains for the Upper Ouse and tributaries from Slaugham to Barcombe Mills and also the Lower Ouse and its tributaries from Barcombe Mills to Newhaven Harbour. The Environment Agency issues three levels of flood advice - severe flood warning, flood warning and flood alert. A flood warning means that flooding is expected and immediate action is required.

The county’s fire and rescue service were kept on their toes and they were so busy yesterday that they appealed to people to only call in an emergency.

The rain also had an impact on Sussex’s holiday camps. Access roads to Butlins in Bognor were closed as the company urged customers to rearrange their breaks. While some holidaymakers at the Havens’ Church Farm holiday camp near Chichester were transferred to a site in Hastings with some 60 of its 900 caravan pitches knee deep in water.

The Met Office have said that rain in the south should ease today, although it will remain showery and rather cool. This pattern of weather is likely to continue through to the weekend. The Environment Agency has said there is a low risk of further flooding overnight into Tuesday as more rain arrives, particularly over Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the downpours and any future problems with flooding, Sussex Police is advising motorists to take extra care when driving.

Insp Phil Nicholas, Road Policing Unit, said: “We are urging drivers to check their speed and drive carefully. Their vision will be hampered by the rain and the spray caused by surface water.

“Throughout last night and today we have been working closely with partner agencies to frequently assess the situation and ensure resources are available where necessary.

“There have been a number of complaints from homeowners who have sandbagged their homes, that fast driving through flood water is causing further damage to their homes. I would warn people to use extreme caution when attempting to go through anything over a couple of inches of water. Do not drive through water that looks too deep to negotiate. If you are in doubt find an alternative route.”

“Extra care should be taken when driving because of large amounts of surface spray on roads. Before setting out check local weather forecasts and traffic conditions on the Highways Agency website.”