Homes across Kent remain on flood after soldiers drafted in to help as gale-force winds batter county
Hundreds of homes across Kent remain at risk of flooding today - despite the calm weather after several stormy days.
As residents survey the damage caused by gale-force winds and the clear-up operation begins, Kent Police warned properties are still under threat because of heavy rain and rising water levels.
These are in Yalding, Collier Street, East Peckham, Kingston, Patrixbourne, Elham, Bridge, Littlebourne, Bishopsbourne, Wickhambreaux, Lydd, Eastry,
and from Wye
Villagers did their best to move floodwater away from homes in Seaton. Picture: Chris Davey
Flooding could also occur in Fordwich, Sturry, Grove Ferry
and Ash, Nettlestead, Wateringbury, Thannington, Alkham, Folkestone, Chartham, Romney Marsh, Boughton Monchelsea
(Brishing dam area) and Wateringbury
The Army was yesterday drafted in to help with flood protection in Kent, with soldiers distributing sandbags and helping families.
It came as Kent's roads suffered heavy congestion after gale-force winds of up to 80mph brought down trees and forced police to bring in Operation Stack on the M20.
Operation Stack - introduced in a bid to ease congestion that had been building since fierce winds closed the Port of Dover for four hours - was in place for around 11 hours until about 10pm.
Soldiers helping to reinforce flood defences in Bishopsbourne. Picture: Chris Davey
Soldiers help with sandbags in Bishopsbourne. Picture: Environment Agency
The Army arrives in Bishopsbourne to help with flood prevention. Picture: Chris Davey
Meanwhile, UK Power Networks this morning said around 800 homes in Kent are still without power following the storms.
Engineers are continuing to work on restoring supplies in Wrotham, Mereworth, Paddock Wood, Barming and Staplehurst.
Police said surface water flooding has also been causing difficulties on the roads at Lydd, Brasted, Westerham and Sundridge.
The Road of Remembrance in Folkestone was also closed by a landslide.
Pipes leading from pumps and into the swollen Nailbourne in Bridge. Picture: Chris Davey
Residents and a KCC employee clear a fallen tree in Cockering Road, Chartham. Picture: Chris Davey
Routes to Grove Ferry were cut off by flooding. Picture: Chris Davey
The Light Dragoons have been in the Canterbury area to help prevent properties being flooded - along with soldiers from 5 Scots and 36 Engineer Regiment working in areas across Kent.
Speaking from Bishopsbourne, Captain Michael Rivington from the 5 Scots regiment said: "We have 12 soldiers in Bishopsbourne, and a total of 100 from Howe Barracks in other villages and on stand-by.
"The river bank here has just broken, and is threatening the houses nearby. We've already created a barrier, and we're hoping to build channels to re-distribute the water.
"In the next 24 hours, the weather could worsen and the defences we've made might not be able to cope. We'll be in and around Canterbury, helping out for at least the next 24 hours.
"We're just the hands that push the sandbags. We're providing reassurance to residents, and hopefully preventing more flooding before it can occur."
Villages around Canterbury, including Patrixbourne, have been flooded
Floodwater creeping up to homes in Bridge
Sandbags surround a house in Seaton. Picture: Chris Davey
Earlier, a Canterbury City Council spokesman said: "As a result of the concern about water levels, we have now had the offer of assistance from the military.
"In order to ensure the fullest protection of people and property, this offer has been accepted.
"People may therefore start seeing soldiers out and about in villages along the Stour and Nailbourne and the section of the Stour through the city.
"Their role is to help with any sandbag placement required and to provide reassurance to the public.
"It should be stressed that at this stage the work of the military is a precautionary measure.
"We are aware people may be concerned at seeing soldiers on the streets, but we want to reassure residents that the weather forecast has improved and the danger of further flooding is manageable by the measures put in place and the resources available."
A landslip closed Remembrance Road in Folkestone
A fallen tree on a car in Grimston Gardens, Folkestone. Picture: @Kent_999s
Flood water made this road in Hawkinge unpassable. Picture: @AaronPStephens
The council is particularly worried about levels in the Stour and Nailbourne, which are being closely monitored.
Flooding in Bridge is particularly bad after a heavy deluge, with water creeping up to homes lined with sandbags in Brewery Lane.
A sandbag channel was being built to take water across the High Street from Brewery Lane and into the Nailbourne.
Meanwhile, the QEII Bridge at Dartford reopened after almost 24 hours at about 4pm yesterday - but congestion continued.
The Sheppey Crossing, which also closed on Friday afternoon because of strong gusts, reopened at about 6pm.
Delays at Aycliffe because the Port of Dover had closed
Kent Police began phase one of Operation Stack on Saturday morning - the closure of the coast-bound carriageway between J11 at Stanford and J12 at Cheriton to non-freight traffic.
A huge backlog of cars and lorries built up on surrounding roads and passengers were warned to expect long delays. Freight traffic had also queuing for the Channel Tunnel.
Police said non-freight traffic would be diverted at J11 of the M20 as part of Operation Stack, where parts of the motorway are used to queue lorries travelling to the continent.
Severe delays built on the A20 towards Dover because of a large backlog of traffic after the port closed for about four hours until 5am.
There were delays of more than two hours between the Round Hill Tunnel and A2 Jubilee Way as the port operates at reduced capacity.
Ross Buggins took this picture of waves breaking over Dover seafront
Fallen trees left all Southeastern services cancelled until about 10am yesterday, when most routes were running again.
The rail operator said it was dealing with at least 12 tree collapses across its network overnight and had urged passengers not to travel until 11am.
Among other roads to suffer disruption because of the weather:
- The M2 London-bound was closed between J7 to J5 at about midday yesterday because of numerous fallen trees
- Several moving cars were damaged by a trailer blown over in strong winds on the M20 coast-bound just after J11 at about 9.40pm on Friday, but no one was injured
- The M2 was closed west-bound between J6 and J5 in the early hours when a tree collapsed on the carriageway. One lane had been reopened by 4am yesterday as work to remove the tree continued
- At 5am, the A2 was closed between Rainham and Newington when a tree fell just past Otterham Quay Lane
- The A251 Faversham Road was blocked by a fallen tree at shortly after 7.30am yesterday
- In Chartham, the A28 Ashford Road was closed in both directions at Hatch Lane
- There were reports of another tree collapsing on the A227 at Gravesend near to St George's School
Debris lies in the street in Greenhithe after part of a building collapsed. Picture: @SE4x4R
In Greenhithe, more than 20 people were evacuated after the wall of a house collapsed in high winds.
Emergency services were called to Reed Court, in Ingress Park, at about 10.50pm on Friday - initially to reports of an explosion.
It was in fact the sound of the gable end of a house crashing to the ground, as storm-force winds wreaked havoc.
The house and surrounding properties were evacuated and more than 20 people needed to be re-housed in temporary accommodation.
Fire crews from Dartford fire station were on site for more than two hours to make the scene safe.
There have also been reports of part of the roof of a block of flats in Sutton Road, Maidstone, being ripped off.
Oakwood Park in Maidstone is blocked by a fallen tree
A tree blocks the road in Shalmsford Street, Chartham
A tree blocking Queens Road in Maidstone
A taxi driver had a lucky escape when a 20ft tree fell on his vehicle on the A2, on the Faversham side of the Norton Crossroads, at about 11.50pm.
The man escaped unscathed after the fir tree plunged and blocked the road.
Sittingbourne fire station watch manager Mark Innes said: "When we got there you couldn't see the car, it was completely underneath the tree. The driver was very, very lucky.
"Because it was a fir tree, it had lots of soft branches so it didn't crush it and he was able to get himself out without any injuries."
Meanwhile, fire crews pumped flood water away from a house in Quantock Driver, in Ashford, at about 7am.
Strong gales have hit Kent, in particular along coastal areas
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said it has received more than 200 severe weather-related calls overnight.
Crews have attended calls to flooded premises, making buildings safe following damage caused by strong winds, cars hit by falling trees and sparking electricity.
Incidents have included:
- A rescue in Birling Road, West Malling, involving two vehicles trapped by flood water
- Dealing with a roof facia overhanging a pathway in New Cut, Chatham
- Helping deal with a large tree that had fallen and brought down a cable, snapping the pole in Barden Road, Speldhurst
- And a fallen that struck a car in The Street, Cobham
Gales hit the Folkestone seafront. Picture: Gary Browne
It comes as the third storm to hit Kent this week brought winds of up to 80mph on the coast along with heavy rain and more flooding.
The Highways Agency said it will "continue to monitor wind speeds closely and will reopen the QEII Bridge and Sheppey Crossing as soon as it is safe to do so".
Kent-bound traffic at the Dartford Crossing is being diverted to use the east bore of the Dartford tunnel and Essex-bound traffic to the west bore.
Drivers of vehicles more than 15ft 9in (4.8 metres) are unable to use the east bore, which will be closed in advance of the QEII Bridge.
Drivers travelling between the Isle of Sheppey and the mainland are being diverted via the Kingsferry lifting bridge.
Road users are advised to expect delays at both crossings.
A severe storm lashes Sandgate. File picture
Graham Russell, Highways Agency operations manager for the south east, said: "As a whole our network is coping well considering the current weather conditions and we have been working around the clock to make sure that strategic roads in Kent, and across the rest of the country remain open.
"We have extra resources available to deal with incidents as quickly as possible but we strongly urge everyone planning to travel in Kent to check their route and weather conditions before setting out and to leave extra time for their journeys if travel conditions are poor."
Bosses said there is a particular risk high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes could be blown over.
They said drivers of these types of vehicles should avoid the following roads during the severe weather:
- A2 Jubilee Way close to Dover
- M2 J2-J3, the Medway Viaduct
- QEII Bridge at the Dartford Crossing
A tree is blown over in high winds in Maidstone. File picture
Cars caught in flooding. File picture
Flooding around the Ashford Designer Outlet earlier this month
Kent Police urged anyone heading out on the county's roads to stay alert for any potential dangers.
The force advised people to stay away from flooded areas and avoid driving through water if possible. Just 10 to 12 inches of flood water can cause a vehicle to drift, it added.
Supt Andrea Bishop said: "Our officers are continuing to work very closely with partner agencies to ensure resources are available to respond to where they are needed. Where evacuations have been necessary, our officers are remaining in the locality to prevent and detect any criminality.
"Not only are we seeing floods from rising rivers causing difficulties for residents, but motorists should stay alert and drive to the conditions."
Tune into kmfm for the latest travel news today.
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