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Amber weather warning issued as homes hit by lightning, and flash floods, heavy rain and thunderstorms sweep Kent

By KentOnline reporter

Two houses have been hit by lightning and flash floods caused road and rail chaos as the Met Office stepped up its severe weather warning to amber today.

The county has been hit by torrential downpours and thunderstorms, and a yellow alert remains in place for much of tonight as forecasters warn of flooding to roads and properties.

This evening Dreamland Margate announced it would close early due to the weather, and several businesses have been forced to shut due to flooding.

There were big floods at Peter's Produce in Herne Bay

Caroline Carruthers is landlady of the New Inn in New Romney.

She has been forced to close the pub following a flash flood earlier today, and fears it may not reopen until the middle of next week.

She said: "When it all happened I was in the building by myself, and a door slammed, my dog started barking and it was like a sheet of water coming at the door.

"There was water coming in everywhere. We're a 700-year-old building, with no foundations, and we're below sea level so the water came up through the floor, through the roof, everywhere.

"It really is a mess. I'm so sad for the building."

The flood left Ms Carruthers with eight inches of water in her function room, and more water in the cellar.

She is now waiting for insurance assessors to inspect the damage.

the drainage in New Romney just doesn't take the amonunt of water we had in such a short space of time

Fire crews from Ashford were called to Prospect Way, in Brabourne Lees, just before midday after the ridge of the roof of the home was struck by lightning.

They were then called to the scene of a small house fire in Singleton Road, Great Chart, after another bolt hit the property.

Tracey Judd lives opposite said she heard "one almighty crash and a few bangs".

She adds: "It scared the hell out of us. Our electric went off for a bit."

The big clean-up Peter's Produce in Herne Bay
Cars have to drive carefully in Cemetery Lane, Ashford

The lights also went out in Great Chart church, and some homes' phone lines are still not working.

Elsewhere, roads including a section of the A20 in Maidstone have become flooded, causing travel chaos.

One motorist who travelled under the bridge near Mote Park, between Square Hill Road and New Cut Road said the water was about 30cm deep already.

There are also reports of flooding at Gillingham level crossing, forcing the earlier suspension of trains between Gillingham and Rainham.

It has now reopened, with delays to services.

Signalling issues - possibly caused by flooding or a lightning strike - are leading to further delays to train services between London and the Kent coast via Tonbridge.

A map of lightning strikes over Kent on Thursday afternoon

The line is currently closed and services are being diverted via Maidstone East while Network Rail investigate.

In Faversham, roads near the creek have become submerged, while residents have reported experiencing power cuts.

Roads including North Lane in the town and the Friars area of Canterbury are blocked because of the downpour.

Faversham submerged. Picture: Ben Macklin
Flooding at Hampton, Herne Bay. Picture: Sarah Wallis

There were also big floods in a number of Canterbury roads, including in the High Street near Nasons, Castle Street, Littlebourne Road, Hoistings Close and Longport.

Mark Williams, who works in Peter's Produce in William Street in Herne Bay, had to pull out the rubbish from the drains after the storms.

He said: "It had reached a level where it was just backing up out of the drain from the main road.

"I'm hoping for the moment I've cleared it down to the base of the drain, at least until such time as it rains again.

Video: Great weather for fish... this diver in wetsuit takes to the roads

"Because of the water table it's been all over the town with people pulling drains up everywhere. These things do happen now and again and I have to go out and sort it, it's not the first time and probably won't be the last time!"

Elsewhere, cars are struggling to drive down New Romney High Street, and seven properties have been flooded.

A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "Officers have been sent to assess reports of flooding in New Romney, Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells.

"One fire engine has been sent to High Street, New Romney to help deal with up to seven properties that have been affected by flooding.

Flooding in New Romney High Street yesterday

"Fire crews have also attended two properties in the Ashford area, following lightning strikes. There are no reported injuries."

Crews were called to a road in Margate where a woman in her 40s was freed from under a van.

The woman was airlifted to a London hospital with injuries believed to be serious.

The road reopened at 2.46pm.

Kent Police spokesman Scarlet Jones said: "Kent Police received a report of a collision involving a pedestrian and a car at 12.35pm.

"Officers, South East Coast Ambulance Service and Kent Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene in Bath Road, Margate."

A Kent Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Crews used an inflating lift bag and hydraulic rescue equipment to free the woman.

"The firefighters worked closely with paramedics to support the woman before she was placed in the care of the air ambulance paramedics. Crews made the scene safe."

It comes after Met Office experts placed the county under a yellow weather warning for rain - which has since been upgraded to amber.

A spokesman said this afternoon: "After very heavy downpours this morning, a second cluster of torrential, thundery downpours is expected to move north across the area from late afternoon.

Cars are having difficulty driving through the deluge in New Romney
The High Street in New Romney has experienced flash floods

"The public should be prepared for the risk of flooding of roads and properties."

The amber warning came into effect at 1pm and will remain in place until 9pm.

Earlier, a spokesman said: "20 or 30 mm of rain may fall in a relatively short space of time in some places whilst locally in excess of 50 mm is possible in just a few hours.

"The public should be aware of a significant risk of localised disruption due to surface water flooding. Lightning and hail are likely to be additional hazards."

The yellow alert came into effect at 1am today and will last until just before midnight.

Then there is a new yellow weather warning starting in the early hours of tomorrow and lasting until 11.50pm, as experts predict rainfalls that will be "both persistent and heavy at times" with a risk of thunder.

Surface flooding in Kent. Stock image.

The downpours are expected to ease off by the evening - although the east of the country will still be affected.

A spokesman added: "Further outbreaks of locally heavy rainfall are likely during Friday, particularly during the early hours and morning, with locally in excess of 50 mm by the end of Friday.

"The public should be aware of a significant risk of localised disruption..." - Met Office

"Localised thunderstorms may also develop across the south and east of England during Friday afternoon, these potentially giving 15-25 mm of rain in a few hours."

But the wet blast might not last long - with some forecasting a heatwave similar to that at the beginning of July to hit the south before the end of the month.

Then, a record July temperature was set - hitting 36.7C (98F) at Heathrow Airport.

Experts at Exacta Weather are forecasting a high pressure system to hit our shores this month.

A spokesman said the southern half of the country was likely to be most affected.

He said: "There is also the potential for some exceptional heat spikes now that this pattern change is taking place, and we are likely to see a number of these developing throughout August.

Ice cream van. Stock image

"These could match or be similar in comparison to what we experienced in early July, but for more prolonged periods given the stage of summer that we are now entering."

Exacta warns that, with the extreme heat, we are likely to get flooding and thundery showers.

What's the weather like where you are? Send photos to news@thekmgroup.co.uk

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