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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 00:22 GMT 01:22 UK
Cold, wet and desperate
A submerged police vehicle
Police have been stranded themselves
The emergency services struggled for most of Thursday evening to evacuate more than 300 families from their homes in Lewes, East Sussex.

Most of the ancient castle town has been submerged in water after the River Ouse burst its banks, causing damage likely to run into millions of pounds.

Those on the ground are bracing themselves for high tide on the Ouse, which is expected to force more water on to the streets and into properties.


The logistics of moving people in these numbers, at this time of night, in this situation is difficult

East Sussex Fire Brigade
East Sussex Fire Brigade spokesman Craig Thompson said many residents had been evacuated but some people had chosen to stay in their homes.

"It has been quite an anxious situation for the residents because at first they thought the water wouldn't come too high," he said.

"But throughout the day the water level has increased and they have become more concerned about their safety.

"We have been able to rescue some using fire brigade boats and the RNLI boats."

He said the evacuation had been difficult.

Massive damage

"The logistics of moving people in these numbers, at this time of night, in this situation is difficult.

"But fortunately we have worked with the other agencies and managed to get them all into the place they want to be."

East Sussex Fire Brigade's Craig Thompson
Firefighters predict things will get worse
Mr Thompson said water levels in Lewes were very high and are expected to rise even further.

He said the flood water was already at street light level and during the night houses might become submerged.

Countryside Minister Elliot Morley visited Lewes on Thursday to meet some of the people driven from their homes by the devastating floods.

Mr Morley pledged the government's full backing to the rescue operation.

The minister also visited the control centre in the town from where the work of dozens of police, firefighters and lifeboat crews is being co-ordinated.

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | UK
Floods cause chaos
12 Oct 00 | UK
Turning back the tide
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