Environment Agency issues dozen flood warnings for Kent amid more severe weather as homes submerged
Dozens of flood alerts remain in force for Kent today - as the county is braced for more severe weather into the weekend.
Residents are warned to prepare for possible flooding after firefighters responded to widespread weather-related incidents this morning.
Crews helped evacuate people from Little Venice Country Park and Marina, in Yalding, which has been flooded four times since Christmas.
Workers battle to protect houses in Patrixbourne from flooding
In other flooding incidents:
- A woman was rescued after becoming trapped in flood water in her car in Hawkhurst this morning
- Fire crews have been pumping flood water away from a property in Pinks Hill, Swanley
- Flood water is also being pumped away from eight properties in Mile Oak Road, Paddock Wood
- People living in flood-hit homes in Bridge, Sandwich and Patrixbourne have been given advice and sandbags
- Flooded fields between Gravesend and Higham were being pumped out as water came close the railway line.
It comes as the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for heavy rain, while forecasters say winds of up to 80mph could batter the county today.
There are concerns areas of Yalding and Maidstone could suffer flooding similar to the scale suffered at Christmas.
And the Environment Agency - which has 14 flood warnings and 16 flood alerts in place for Kent - warned properties are expected to flood and people should take action to prepare.
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A field next to Little Venice caravan park became a lake this morning
Flooded Little Venice caravan park in Yalding. Picture: ATEC-3D
Residents of the Yalding caravan park are used to evacuating
Little Venice caravan park director Michael Godden today vowed to do everything possible to help residents.
He said: "We are just trying to get people organised and get themselves safe. My staff will not leave until we know everyone is safe.
"We have been flooded four times since Christmas. We are still recovering from that, but the weather keeps coming..." - caravan site director Michael Godden
"We have been flooded four times since Christmas. We are still recovering from that, but the weather keeps coming. It is out of our control.
One of those who had not yet left the site this morning was Mary Vacher, who said: "I am looking out of my window and it's knee deep.
"The police came at about 1am and asked if we wanted to leave. I said no because I can get out in my waders.
"When is it going to end for everybody that's affected? It's appalling. They are saying it's going to be as bad as Christmas, but what do they mean by this?
"Will it be because they open the Leigh Barrier or because there'll be so much rain?
"I have packed a bag and am ready to go and am monitoring the situation carefully. If they say it's as bad as Christmas I am going to leave because it's not safe.
"I think they are being extra cautious and I don't blame them for that. It's better than being under prepared."
Many roads were left impassable by flooding
This road in Patrixbourne has become a river after flooding along the Nailbourne
The Environment Agency warned of more flooding risks
The Environment Agency said rivers across Kent, including the River Medway and the River Stour, have risen after heavy downpours.
With further rainfall due today and into the weekend on saturated ground and highly responsive rivers, further property flooding is considered likely.
Environment Agency staff have been working with local authorities in Bridge, near Canterbury, to respond to high flows on the River Nailbourne.
Video: Homes and roads submerged as floods hit Kent
Flood warnings are in place on the River Stour at Thanington and Canterbury.
The Leigh Flood Storage Area began storing water on the River Medway at 9am today, controlling the amount travelling downstream and reducing the risk of flooding.
Roads are submerged in Patrixbourne
Flood defences have also been deployed in Danvers Road, Tonbridge, to reduce the risk of flooding in the area.
Staff will be joining local flood wardens, community groups, and other agencies to warn and inform residents of the latest situation and their flood risk in Thanington, Canterbury, and Fordwich on the River Stour; Tonbridge, Hildenborough, and Yalding along the River Medway; and communities along the Nailbourne Valley.
The River Medway overflows in Maidstone this morning
Pathways disappear under the swollen river in Maidstone
High river levels in Maidstone town centre
Jennie Donovan, from the Environment Agency, said: "Since early December, Kent has faced an extraordinary period of weather and flooding.
"Environment Agency teams have been out on the ground throughout checking and repairing defences, clearing blockages, deploying demountable defences and monitoring river levels.
"We will be out in force again today and across the weekend to minimise the risk of flooding and keep communities safe."
The end of Old Palace Road in Bekesbourne is under water
Emergency crews were pumping water out of homes on the outskirts of Canterbury.
Firefighters were called to Patrixbourne and Bridge this morning after water rushed into properties in the villages.
Patrixbourne Road has been closed "until further notice" due to the flooding and drivers are urged to use other routes.
The Steiner School in Petham has also been closed due to the washout.
Canterbury City Council handed out 9,000 sandbags in preparation for this weekend's deluge.
Today, the authority warned people to avoid Valley Road between Barham and Kingston, which is currently under water.
The coach park in Canterbury is also closed due to flooding and rubbish collection services have been disrupted.
Flooding of the Nailbourne
Areas of Canute Road in Deal were under about a foot of water because drains have been blocked - since Christmas.
A lake stretches about 100 metres, having formed from heavy rain overnight.
Resident Vicky Sharpe said: "I've been here eight years and they are always full."
Her mother Margaret Sharpe also lives in the road and said her year-old block-paved drive is under water - despite laying sandbags.
Neighbour Janet Thomson complained to Kent County Council on Christmas Eve, and residents have been reporting the problem ever since.
She said: "I was told when I can't step out of my front door, call back then."
Mrs Sharpe added: "The drains van turned up in January and we thought, 'yes, they're clearing the drains', but he drove straight past."
Vehicles negotiate the flood water in Deal
Drains have been blocked in Canute Road, Deal, since Christmas
A flooded Canute Road in Deal
Meanwhile, coastguards at Dover said they are expecting very strong winds later in the day that could affect cross-Channel services.
Kent Police urged people to stay away from rising water as the county is battered by more extreme weather.
It predicted localised flooding in some areas of Tonbridge, Yalding, Hildenborough and Paddock Wood.
A bench is submerged in Wateringbury
Flood waters start to rise at Wateringbury
Flooding on the sports ground at Tonbridge
A police spokesman said: "Kent Police is working closely with its partner agencies to ensure that the response to those affected by flooding and the weather is co-ordinated and effective.
"Those heading out over the next few days are urged to stay alert to any potential dangers particularly in and around flood water.
"The advice is to stay away from flooded rivers, avoid driving through water if possible and brakes should be checked regularly."
An aerial image of Ashford under water. Picture: Dean Morse
Yesterday, the government announced 42 new flood defences for England, including one at Littlestone Beach in Folkestone.
A total of £1.5m is to be spent to shore up defences - and safeguard around 4,500 homes from flooding.
Cliff fall at Dumpton Gap in Broadstairs
As winds reached their strongest along exposed areas of the Kent coast, there was a cliff fall in Broadstairs today.
Walkers took pictures of the pile of rubble on the beach at Dumpton Gap this morning.
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