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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Flooding across Maidstone, Malling and the Weald. Dozens rescued, Maidstone town centre affected by flooding.

26 December 2013
by Kent Messenger reporter

Families had to be rescued from their homes and roads were closed as Maidstone and west Kent responded to flooding.

Homes in Yalding were being evacuated on Boxing Day afternoon as water levels continued to rise.

The worst flooding seen since 2000 left thousands of homes without power on Christmas Day - and a declared major incident prompted Kent Fire and Rescue Service to abandon its planned strike action.

Lockmeadow complex is flooded

Lockmeadow complex is flooded. Picture courtesy of Our Maidstone

The emergency services worked throughout the night rescuing families trapped in rising flood waters as more and more areas became submerged by rising water.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service confirmed on Boxing Day morning that 50 people had to be rescued from their homes in Yalding. The operation to evacuate homes started at midday yesterday and carried on until midnight.

Fire crews used boats to get people to safety and the control room has received around 130 calls since 5am on Christmas Day. Four water rescue teams were in operation.

Earlier in the day 80 people had to be rescued from a caravan park in Yalding after at least 2ft of water flooded caravans. Coastguard teams were drafted in.

The junction of Barker Road and Tonbridge Road

The flooded junction of Barker Road and Tonbridge Road in Maidstone

Maidstone town-centre has been badly affected by flooding and the A229 Fairmeadow is currently closed from the White Rabbit roundabout to the Lower High Street.

After a closure of the bridge system was put in place on Christmas Day, Kent Police announced that this had been lifted by 11.15am on Boxing Day and roads had re-opened.

The earlier closure meant the town had effectively been cut in two.

Police closed the Maidstone Bridge on Christmas Day

Police closed the Maidstone Bridge on Christmas Day

Fremlin Walk shopping centre's car park is closed and the lifts do not work, but the centre has pledged to battle on around the chaos, with shops open as normal. Shoppers are advised to use other car parks including Brewer Street, Union Street, and The Mall Chequers.

High river levels in Maidstone

High river levels in Maidstone

Hundreds of people gathered in Maidstone to have a look at the river.
 
The Barge Restaurant is still moored but floating perilously high and close to the Archbishop's Palace, while the kiosk next to the river has been completely submerged.
 
Palace Avenue is still open, though down to one lane from Mill Street, causing some tailbacks.

Water is currently submerging the Lockmeadow car park and this is out of bounds.

Bridges Wine Bar as water rises around it

Bridges Wine Bar as water rises around it

Latest information from the Environment Agency's Floodline is that a flood warning remains in place for the River Medway covering areas including Tonbridge, Yalding, Wateringbury, East Farleigh, Tovil, Maidstone and Allington.

While water levels are predicted to reduce on Boxing Day - as no rain is forecast - the big concern is predicted heavy rain on Friday, which could see the levels of flood water rising again.

In other incidents spanning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

One family were led to safety after their home in Whitefriars Wharf, Tonbridge, became consumed with water, another family of two adults and a child were rescued from a car trapped in floodwater in Headcorn, Staplehurst and two people were helped from their stranded car in Angel Lane, Tonbridge.

Teston Bridge from the air. Picture courtesy of SkyFlyvideo

Teston Bridge from the air. Picture courtesy of SkyFlyvideo

One man scrambled to the roof of his car at Farleigh Bridge, East Farleigh, and firefighters used a boat to reach him after it became partially submerged in fast flowing water.
 
Another man was rescued from a tree after being swept away by flood water on Christmas Eve. Crews used an inland boat to reach the man and bring him to dry land. He was given first aid by firefighters but did not require further medical attention.
 
In Water Lane, Hawkhurst one driver trapped by flood water but able to get out of vehicle safely. The road was closed due to the level of water. And in the same lane in Edenbridge, 
three adults and a child were rescued from their car trapped by flood water. Firefighters used water safety gear to rescue those trapped.
 
A swollen River Medway. Picture courtesy of SkyFlyVideo

A swollen River Medway. Picture courtesy of SkyFlyVideo

In Lees Road, Yalding, five adults were saved from a car in deep water; in Fordcombe Road, Penshurst, a van driver became surrounded by water but was able to get out safely before crews arrived.

In Sheephurst Lane, Marden, three vehicles were marooned and five people in total rescued.

In Green Lane Marden, two men had to be assisted by Kent Fire and Rescue after their car was surrounded by water.

Drakes at Fairmeadow on Christmas Day morning. Pic Courtesy of Our Maidstone

Drakes at Fairmeadow Picture courtesy of Our Maidstone

KFRS Assistant Director of Service Delivery, Sean Bone-Knell said: “It’s been an incredibly busy festive period and our crews and control room staff have done a fantastic job in helping people. We have not been able to assist with every call but there have been a number of incidents where we have rescued people in very difficult situations."

Wallis Place flats off Maidstone's Hart Street are flooded. Picture courtesy of Ben Dempster Photography (bendempsterphotography.com)

Wallis Place flats off Maidstone's Hart Street are flooded. Picture courtesy of Ben Dempster Photography (bendempsterphotography.com)

People living in the Wallis Place complex, off Hart Street found their communal gardens and car park under several feet of water. Several cars have been moved by the force of the water.

Maidstone Bridge - pic courtesy of Our Maidstone

Maidstone Bridge - pic courtesy of Our Maidstone

And 4,869 homes in Kent are still without power after electricity cables were brought down following a night of gale-force winds and torrential rain on Monday.

UK Power Networks staff battled throughout the night to ensure as many homes as possible could have an electricity supply for their Christmas feast.

Despite the floods the Environment Agency revealed that the Leigh flood defence barrier in Tonbridge held back 5.5 million cubic metres of water at peak times on Christmas Eve, from areas further down the Medway.

Kent Police declared a major incident for the ongoing flooding and conditions affecting the county. As a result, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent FBU officials agreed a countywide recall for firefighters who were due to take strike action. 

The Environment Agency's Floodline number is 08459 88 11 88

 

Click here for more news from Maidstone.

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