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Kent weather: county hit by wind and rain

Flood warnings are in place as Kent is battered by heavy rain and winds of more than 70mph.

The Sheppey Crossing was closed at 3am, with traffic being diverted via the Sheppey Road crossing. But it was reopened just after 7am.

Meanwhile, Operation Stack has now been lifted on the M20 closed coast-bound between Junctions 8 and 9. But it may take some time to clear the backlog of traffic.

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The bridge over the River Medway at Maidstone this morning
The bridge over the River Medway at Maidstone this morning

Rail passengers face delays with both lines closed at West Malling earlier because of an obstruction on the tracks.

In Beltring, a fallen tree was causing delays this morning after it was struck by a freight train.

And residents in Tunbridge Wells got a shock when they woke up to find the roofs of their garages had been ripped off by strong gusts.

In Chartham, Cockering Road is blocked due to fallen tree and fallen power cables between Rattington Street and Stranger's Lane.

Video: Kent battered by strong wind and heavy rain - Jem Collins reports

A tree has also fallen down Birchwood Avenue, Southborough.

And in Hawkhurst, there is flooding and a broken down car stuck in flood water on the B2244 Hastings Road at Merriments Lane.

A car has also got stuck in flood water on the A251 Faversham Road between the A252 at Challock and Wye Road at Boughton Lees.

In Maidstone, the River Medway was very high under the bridge at Maidstone this morning, with water coming over the towpath.

The affected garages
The affected garages
Garage roofs blew off during gusts in Tunbridge Wells
Garage roofs blew off during gusts in Tunbridge Wells

Flooding is also affecting the roads in Ashford today.

Police were called to Boys Hall Road, in Willesborough, at 9am after a car broke down, causing slight delays in the area.

Officers attended and said that the vehicle had driven through a large puddle before breaking down. The car remains at the scene and is awaiting recovery. 

The Stour Centre car park is also flooded, with the borough council asking visitors to use the nearby Dover Place car park instead.

The path that leads from Asda to the Newtown estate has flooded...again
The path that leads from Asda to the Newtown estate has flooded...again
A path disappears under rain water. Stock image
A path disappears under rain water. Stock image

Water has also invaded two homes in High Halden today. Dudley Mallett, of Ashford Road, says his home and his 97-year-old neighbour's home, have been flooded following last night and this morning's heavy rainfall. He also has around 30 inches of water in his garden.Meanwhile, in Kingsnorth Judy Barrett and husband Kevin found their home several inches under water.The couple, both 53, bought their house in Stumble Lane,10 years ago on the understanding it was not on a floodplain.

A tree has almost come down in Ploughmans Way in Rainham
A tree has almost come down in Ploughmans Way in Rainham
The river is high in Yalding
The river is high in Yalding

Despite having no difficulties in a decade, shockingly their garden has been inches under water three times in two months. 

Mrs Barrett said the couple have faced much worse weather over the years without any problems and she fears the issue is now getting worse.

She said: “I’m worried because the water is inching closer to the garage when my husband and son’s racing bikes are kept. If it does get worse, it could cause thousands of pounds of damage.

“Something must have changed. We bought this house because it was not at risk of flooding but now, in the last few months, the slightest hint of rain and we’re under water again. It is very distressing.” 

Experts at the Environment Agency have also put the county under flood readiness - with nine official warnings covering rivers across the county.

Water has risen up to the riverbanks in Yalding
Water has risen up to the riverbanks in Yalding
Environment Agency staff are in Yalding offering reassurance to residents
Environment Agency staff are in Yalding offering reassurance to residents

These include the Teise in Lamberhurst and Goudhurst; the River Medway between Penshurst and the Leigh Barrier; Yalding; the Teise and Lesser Teise between Horsmonden and Claygate; Paddock Wood and Laddingford; the River Medway between Yalding and Maidstone; Little Venice Country Park and Marina in Yalding; Aylesford Stream between Hinxhill and Ashford and Collier Street.

The warnings mean flooding is expected and immediate action is required.

A band of windy weather making its way across Britain from the Atlantic is also set to hit the county later today.

High bridges including the Dartford and Sheppey crossings could be shut with winds of 70mph expected at the Queen Elizabeth II bridge. 

A tree blown over in winds. Stock image
A tree blown over in winds. Stock image

The highest winds will be felt at the coast, and drivers on the A2 Jubilee Way at Dover could experience gusts of up to 75mph.

Rain will add to motorists' woes, and Highways Agency officials have told lorry drivers and motorcyclists to take extra care.

Ferry services are reporting delays of up to two hours and DFDS Seaways has cancelled all sailings until further notice.

Operation Stack was implemented yesterday evening. Travel on the county's motorways was made even more difficult following an earlier crash on the A249 near the Stockbury roundabout, which has caused serious congestion on the M2. 

Andrew Broughton, for the Highways Agency, said: "We're expecting some high winds in particular as well as some rain as well so we're working closely with the Met Office at the moment and continuing to monitor the conditions through the day.

"With the high windspeeds predicted we're expecting some sort of disruption so we're monitoring the wind speeds particularly on our bridges just to ensure that we maintain safe roads over today and into tomorrow. 

"I would ask road users just to play their parts as well, just check the traffic conditions and weather forcecast before they set out and just to drive with extra care as well. 

"We'll always advise people just to allow a bit of extra time and drive to the conditions so if there's a lot of spray just to slow down a little bit so they can maintain those stopping distances between the vehicles in front.

"Just leave more time and drive with caution because there may well have been trees that have come down.

"We'll continue to work to do what we can to keep the roads open."

The Met Office's chief forecaster said: "The strongest winds will initially be across England and Wales during the second half of Wednesday into early Thursday. This may also lead to large waves on some coasts of Wales and southern England. 

"As well as the very strong winds, a band of squally rain is likely to sweep eastwards across many parts through the period."


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