You may have survived the drought. But are you ready for the flood?

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The Independent Online

A week dominated by dire warnings of Britain running dry ended on a wet note. Flood alerts were issued across Britain yesterday after more than two-thirds of the average rainfall for September fell during Thursday night in parts of the country.

A week dominated by dire warnings of Britain running dry ended on a wet note. Flood alerts were issued across Britain yesterday after more than two-thirds of the average rainfall for September fell during Thursday night in parts of the country.

The river Lea in north London, and areas around rivers in five counties in the South-west and 12 regions in South Wales were deemed to be at mostrisk after more than two inches of rain.

Emergency services were in action, but some water board officials were unable to help because they said they lacked petrol for their vehicles. Portsmouth City Council evacuated its offices and sent all its staff home when floods cut off power to the civic offices. An emergency planning centre was set up but efforts were hampered by a total power failure at a pumping station at Eastney.

On the roads in Hampshire, cars were stranded up to their bonnets in water after the torrential downpour hit Southsea. Sandbags have been issued to homes and businesses, and at least two offices have been evacuated.

All available staff at Southern Water have been sent to help tackle the floods but a spokesman said the fuel shortages meant some workers could not use their cars.

The wastewater manager, Nev James, said: "Without power at Eastney pumping station, the situation is extremely serious and we are doing all we can to restore its operation and help prevent flooding. But there was a huge volume of rain in a very short time and at the moment it is overwhelming the pumping station."

East Anglia suffered the most rain yesterday before conditions cleared and the North of England had rain for most of the afternoon. Skies cleared towards the end of the day as the bad weather pushed south-east. Sussex was under flood alert after the county was hit by up to three and a half inches of rain and fire crews had to pump out parts of Brighton.

Contestants in Channel 5 television's Jailbreak series were in their mock jail at Cuffley, Hertfordshire when rainwater seeped into the three main areas of the prison. A spokesman for the TV company said no permanent damage was done, and the show will continue as planned.

The deluge came five days after the start of the Environment Agency's Flood Action Week to focus on the problems faced by five million people who live in flood-risk areas in England and Wales, with property, land and other assetsvalued at £214bn.

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