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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Downpours flood town high street
Flooding in Uckfield
The flood closed businesses and the school (Picture by Stuart Gill)
A high street in an East Sussex town was left under water after nearly a month's rain fell in a few hours.

Flash floods almost eight inches (203mm) deep covered the main road in Uckfield after the torrential downpour.

Pupils were sent home from Uckfield Community College after blocked drains sent water gushing into the school.

Firefighters were also called to Worthing and Southlands Hospital in West Sussex after corridors and lift shafts became flooded.

There was also flooding in Haywards Heath and East Grinstead and fire and the emergency services said they had to help two stranded drivers in the north of the county.

'Everything's gone'

Some 48mm (1.9in) of rain fell in Uckfield, which was worst hit by the downpours, between 0930 BST and 1045 BST covering the traffic lights end of the high street.

Principal Craig Pamphilon said: "Everybody in the whole college has been fantastic.

"There have been brushers, sweepers... just to try and get the water out as quickly as it was coming in because the longer it stays on wooden floors the more the cost of the damage goes up.

"Just about everybody has been working to get children home safely, get them into places of safety in the college and keep the college as dry as we possibly can but it's been really hard work. "

Tesco in Bell Farm Road and the Cock and Bull public house in Uckfield High Street also had to close because of the flooding.

Pub landlord Kieran Meehan said: "Everything was fine when we first came in. Then I popped out to do the banking, came back in and basically everything was gone.

"The whole floor's gone, the cellar has completely [filled] it's just rising."

'Barrage of rain'

The roads were re-opened at about 1130 BST after fire brigade pumped the water into the river Uck.

The emergency services said the river did not break its banks and the floods were caused by surface water.

Insp Richard Allum said: "Because of the barrage of rain the water poured down the roads and pooled at the traffic lights.

"The water rose in the space of 20 minutes and the roads were closed whilst East Sussex Fire and Rescue pumped away the flood water."

A spokesman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue said: "The service has been kept busy with some localised flooding, with most of our fire appliances involved at some stage.

"But whilst in some areas we have been stretched, we have managed to maintain fire cover for other emergencies at all times."


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