HEAVY rainfall and flooding has caused some major routes in Essex to close this morning with some minor roads also being described as impassable.

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Firefighters were called out to more than 30 flood-related incidents last night which included flooded homes and motorists becoming trapped after driving cars into flood water.

Fire chiefs and police are now warning drivers to take care on and find alternative routes if there is standing water on the roads.

The A1245 Rayleigh Spur and the A127 Rayleigh Weir are currently closed to traffic due to the heavy rain overnight.

Chief Inspector Nick Lee, of Essex Police, said: “I would advise motorists to take great care when driving in these conditions and not to underestimate the depth of surface water.

“Please drive at appropriate speeds as water running off the land can cause floods at unexpected locations. Also make sure you keep tuned in to the radio and if possible avoid roads that are affected by the flooding.

“It is also important to be aware that most cars have air intakes which are placed near the lowest point on the vehicle and if water is sucked into the engine it can cause significant damage and cause this to stop working.”

DO Neil Fenwick, of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, added: “When faced with water, drivers should exercise a little common sense. If they can they should find an alternative route. If there is no way round they should park safely and get out to check the depth of the water before they drive into it.

“Just driving into water and hoping for the best is not an option, by the time you find out the water is too deep you are already trapped.”

The fire service was called out to incidents in the East Hanningfield, Bicknacre, Danbury and Colchester areas, between 9.30pm and midnight yesterday.

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