South suffers worst floods in decades

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes last night as southern England suffered some of its worst flooding for a generation.

Hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes last night as southern England suffered some of its worst flooding for a generation.

A mass evacuation was put into action in five Kent villages, Yalding, East Peckham, Laddingford, Collier Street and Stilebridge. The Environment Agency opened the Leigh flood barriers at Tonbridge to relieve the pressure after the river Beult burst its banks.

Buses were provided to take villagers to an overnight shelter in Maidstone but there were reports of people refusing to leave despite warnings that their lives could be at risk.

Hundreds of homes across the south of England were evacuated as floods caused damage estimated at millions of pounds. Roads and rail services were thrown into chaos.

At Uckfield in East Sussex, Vernon Bishop, 58, was swept for nearly a mile along the river Uck after his shop was flooded. He was eventually rescued by police and taken to hospital in Haywards Heath.

Mr Bishop, who was said to be in a "serious but stable" condition, told nurses: "It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I thought I was going to die. The water came like a huge wave crashing on to a beach. It literally picked me up and washed me away. I tried to grab hold of things but the water was moving so strongly. It pushed me from the high street into the river Uck. I shouted at people to help but there was nothing they could do."

The Environment Agency issued severe flood warnings for six rivers - indicating "imminent danger to life and property" - and dozens of lesser alerts.

Comments