Floods and misery in southern England as more than a month’s worth of rain falls in just a few hours


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The Independent Online

Forecasters warned there was little prospect of summer as once again more than a month’s worth of rain fell in just a few hours today bringing flooding and misery to parts of southern England.

Storm conditions are set to return later in the week, the Met Office said, as homes were evacuated along the south coast while a hospital in Worthing was forced to divert emergency admissions after wards were inundated with water.

The Environment Agency issued more than 40 flood warnings and alerts on rivers across Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire which were lashed with torrential downpours. Worst affected were the rivers Mole and Barnham.

Meanwhile, surface water was continuing to pose a hazard in London where commuters were drenched and the fire brigade was called to dozens of incidents across the capital.

Some parts of Sussex saw 80mm fall in just 12 hrs – one and a half times the June average of 55mm. The deluge followed a weekend of severe flooding in West Wales.

Six hundred residents from the village of Pennal, near Machynlleth, were allowed to return home after a controlled release from a derelict quarry which had been threatening to engulf their community with six million gallons of water.

A special disaster fund was set up to help businesses and homeowners facing millions of pounds in damages and clear up costs.

Ceredigion County Council leader Ellen ap Gwynn said many people who had “lost everything” were not insured, or were unable to get cover for their riverside homes.

“The last 48 hours have been horrendous. The bottom of Talybont was like a big lake. It has been once in a 100 year event.  I think now the full scale of the damage and loss is beginning to sink in,” she said.

Meanwhile people living on Littlehampton seafront in West Sussex were taken to a temporary rest centre when 40 properties were submerged under 4ft of water and manhole covers burst open causing sewage to back up and spill out onto streets

Bed and breakfast owners said they had been forced to cancel bookings because of the damage.

 Local man Max Ngasa, 21, said a torrent of water burst through his flat’s front door.

“It was like something from the Titanic when I opened up door. The water came pouring in and within minutes it was up to our knees.

It’s wrecked everything – the carpets, furniture, electrics,” he said. A man had to be rescued by firefighters after his car became stuck in deep water in a ford in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

Busy roads were closed in West Sussex, including the A27 between Chichester and Havant, the A29. Earlier the M1 near Leeds reopened after it was shut between J42-47 in West Yorkshire.

Martin Young, Met Office chief forecaster, said there would again be unseasonably strong winds over the south of England and Wales on Thursday and Friday.

“The gusty winds will make travelling conditions difficult and may bring down trees. Many parts will also have heavy rain at times, giving a rather miserable end to the week,” he said.

The monsoon conditions are the result of the Gulf Stream which is currently to the south of the UK allowing the country to be buffeted by Atlantic depressions.

But although bookmakers slashed the odds on a Wimbledon washout and the Olympic flame being snuffed out in the rain there was hope that fine weather could be on its way by the end of the month.