Flood alert as more rain falls

TORRENTIAL rain was today threatening Suffolk with more flooding.Yesterday's downpour caused chaos on roads across the region – and we were being given a repeat today.

By Tracey Sparling

TORRENTIAL rain was today threatening Suffolk with more flooding.

Yesterday's downpour caused chaos on roads across the region – and we were being given a repeat today.

At one stage the main road between Suffolk and London was blocked by six-feet of water, causing chaos for travellers.

Head groundsman Alan Ferguson stepped in to ensure Ipswich Town's successful match against Millwall went ahead, as the New Year was washed in.

Mr Ferguson listened to the weather forecast on New Year's Eve, and when he heard downpours were expected, he set up a huge tent to protect the pitch at Portman Road.

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The match was never under threat thanks to the preparation work, which saw water draining off the sides of the tent onto to the perimeter of the pitch where it was pumped away yesterday.

Mr Ferguson said at the time: "The pitch had about an inch of rain from 5am to 9am, and the rain is still falling."

By today, reports were being heard of flooding across the whole of Suffolk, after more than three-quarters of an inch of rain fell yesterday when it poured for 12 hours from 5am to 5pm.

Another inch of rain was expected to fall across southern England during today .

There is some hope of respite, however. By the weekend forecasters expect the weather to become drier, but colder.

Police described driving conditions as 'absolutely horrific' with parts of the A12 closed including between Marks Tey and Kelvedon, and mud washed up at Wickham Market.

The A14 was flooded last night at Creeting, Haughley and Rougham.

At Melton, the A1152 was flooded by the railway station at about 10am yesterday.

One motorist said: "You couldn't get through it without stopping first. People were being very wary and I thought I was going to get stuck."

A spokesman for Anglia Railways said floodwater on the track at Marks Tey had been pumped away overnight and no services had been affected.

At Dedham just across the Essex border, the River Stour burst its banks and flooded acres of pasture and left herds of sheep and cows wading to islands. Brave canoeists made the most of a chance to try their white water skills at gushing sluice gates near Dedham Mill.

The Environment Agency said five flood warnings (middle level alerts) were in force across Suffolk rivers today, including the Lark between Sicklesmere and Bury, the Rattlesden between Rattlesden and Combs Ford, the Box between Boxford and Stoke-by-Nayland, the Gipping between Needham Market and Bramford, and the Gipping between south Stowmarket and Needham Market.

A further 11 areas were officially on flood watch (a lower state of alert) including the rivers Brett, Deben, and Stour.

A teenage girl was killed when two cars collided on the A128 near Brentwood, Essex at around 1.30pm yesterday, and the road had to be closed until 4.30pm. It is believed the dead woman driver of the Renault Clio was aged in her late teens. The driver of the other car, a Ford Mondeo, escaped with minor injuries.

East Anglia is one of the worst-affected areas in the UK, but elsewhere in the country, severe weather caused disruption to travel and sporting fixtures yesterday as the New Year got off to a damp start.

Continuing rain led to a landslide in which a South Central Brighton to London train was derailed yesterday, near Redhill, Surrey.

None of the 105 passengers on board was injured.

Unlike Ipswich Town's success, many New Year's Day football games fell foul of the weather, including two Premiership matches - Charlton v West Ham and Fulham v West Bromwich Albion.

Reading's encounter with Leicester City was abandoned with the score at 0-0 while about a dozen other Nationwide League matches were called off before they started, most of them in the south of England or the Midlands.

nFor more details calls the Environment Agency's Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or see www.environment-agency.gov.uk.