The River Uck at about 8pm on December 23

Uckfield flood alert – river may have stablilised

Update at 10am, Tuesday, December 24: Roofing felt was ripped of the entire length of Holy Cross School by strong winds during the night.

Uckfield Firefighters were called by the school caretaker at 3am as rain water poured through the exposed roof causing damage to several classrooms and the staff room.

The crew moved a large number of computers from the affected rooms to an unaffected part of the school.

The electricity supply was also isolated when it was discovered that water was also leaking into the intake room.

Yesterday at about 5.45pm two Keld Avenue residents were rescued by Uckfield firefigthters when a tree collapsed onto their car as their drove into their driveway.

The female driver and her ten-year-old son were released uninjured but shaken after crews cut away part of the tree.

At 7.21pm An Uckfield crew attended a chimney fire at a Nutley cottage deep in the Ashdown Forest and at 10.10pm a crew removed flood water from the basement of a house in Snatts Road.

At 11pm firefighters were sent to deal with a dangerous roof in Mallard Drive where they removed loose ridge tiles from the building after tiles and masonry fell due to the high winds.

In the early hours of this morning, at 12.46am an elderly Buxted resident was helped by firefighters after the wind blew in a ground floor window.

Having negotiated flooded lanes and fallen trees, the firefighters made a temporary repair by boarding up the window to prevent any further damage.

The level of the River Uck continues to fall but it is still just above its highest ever point at 1.50 metres at Uckfield Mill (Environment Agency measurement).

Paul Watson reported on the flood alert in Uckfield overnight for His reports and pictures follow:

6am summary, Tuesday, December 24: Uckfield spent most of last night on a knife-edge as the River Uck continued to rise hour after hour.

Gale force winds howled and roared as torrential rain fell sparking fears of a repeat of the year 2000 flood.

Just as the level was beginning to approach a critical point, the intensity of the rain eased and the crisis eased.

Low-lying areas were flooded but there was no reported widespread damage to property.

At an Environment Agency measuring station at Uckfield Mill, a river level of 1.69 metres was recorded at 5.15am. The highest previous figure was 1.49 metres in February 2009.

Many low-lying fields on the River Uck flood plain are under water as is the Hempstead Local Nature Reserve (also part of the flood plain).

Torrent of water

A torrent of water more than two feet deep is rushing through the area.

Uckfield spent the night on the lowest level of warning – an Environment Agency Flood Alert (Be prepared, flooding is possible). At Buxted, an area was placed under a Flood Warning (Flooding is expected, immediate action is required).

Shops in the low-lying area of Bell Walk put up flood defences as did businesses on the Bellbrook Business Park.

Flood gate closed

The flood gate at the Waitrose car park was closed soon after 10pm as a precaution. It was the first time it has been used at a time of potential flood threat.

A sewer pipe which crosses the Uck near town bridge is used by many people as a benchmark on the height of the river. For a long period the water foamed over this pipe.

Trains disrupted

Rail services are disrupted this morning (Christmas Eve).

Train operator Southern said routes would have to be checked and obstructions removed before services could start.

The company’s website stated: “This is highly likely to lead to services being significantly disrupted or cancelled and it may take some time to clear routes, depending on the extent of the damage caused by the storm.”

There is also likely to be considerable debris on the roads and possibly floods.

The high winds brought down trees across Wealden.

Scroll down this page to see the updates through the night and the photographs we took.

Click on the photographs to enlarge.

5.40am update, Tuesday, December 24: Heavy bursts of rain in the last hour have kept Uckfield flood watchers glued to the height of the Uck as it roars through town like an express train.

The water may have stopped rising  and there is still around a metre to go before it would flood the Waitrose car park.The car park, with its flood wall, has a large capacity to hold water.

The flood gate, near the entrance to Waitrose, was closed just after 10pm last night – for the first time in a potential emergency.

Clearing trees

In recent weeks, the Environment Agency has been clearing trees upstream of the roller mill but there are concerns the storm will have brought down trees and branches which could cause a blockage in the channel, particularly at the bridge.

Volunteers have been on patrol in the town and surrounding area through the night ready to help the emergency services.

At 4am the river height at Uckfield Mill stood a 1.65 metres; a record. It had been stable at this figure for 45 minutes after rising through the night hour by hour. At 4.30am it had edged up to 1.67m after a short spell of torrential rain and by 5.15am was at 1.69m

More prolonged heavy rain would almost certainly spark another rise.

Trains: No services this morning until further notice on Southern.

2.45am update, Tuesday, December 24: Householders in the low-lying part of Olives Meadow, Uckfield, are trying to protect their homes against the rising waters of the River Uck.

It has already reached their gardens and the next-door Hempstead Local Nature Reserve is under about two-feet of water.

Parts of the reserve are like a fast-flowing river.

Water is now flowing over the sewer pipe near town bridge. Water is also now in a car park at the far end of the Roller Mill. Click on the photographs to enlarge.

Water gushing down a channel near the roller mill in the early hours of December 24

Water gushing down a channel near the roller mill in the early hours of December 24

Water surging off Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Water surging off Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve

At 1.30am the water level at Uckfield Mill was 1.56 metres; a new record.

Nearby Hempstead Lane is flooded as are the surrounding fields on the flood plain.

A view from the railway station platform

A view from the railway station platform

Rain is continuing to fall but not as heavily as earlier in the night. There are still extremely strong gusts of wind which are bringing down trees, particularly in rural locations and sometimes blocking roads.

1.30am update,Tuesday, December 24: The river level at Uckfield Mill has reached 1.51 metres and is the highest level to be recorded at this location.

The reading was taken at 12.45am. It had risen 0.6 metres since midnight.

Uckfield is on a knife-edge although the rain has abated.

12.05am update, Tuesday, December 24: The River Uck continues to rage through the town with its level rising.

At midnight the level recorded at Uckfield Mill by the Environment Agency was 1.45 metres. The typical river level here is between 0.30 metres and 1.30 metres.

The highest level ever recorded here was 1.49 metres on February 10, 2009.

Sandbags have been placed at the door of historic Bridge Cottage while flood barriers are being put in place across shop doorways in Bell Walk, including Kids Stuff and the Goodwin betting shop.

Installing a flood wall at Kids Stuff

Installing a flood wall at Kids Stuff

Environment Agency staff are deployed in and around the town.

Parts of Buxted, upstream of Uckfield, have been told to “expect” flooding.

Water just managing to flow under the pipe across the Uck near town bridge

Water just managing to flow under the pipe across the Uck near town bridge

Sandbags at Bridge Cottage

Sandbags at Bridge Cottage

A flood wall at Goodwin Racing Ltd

A flood wall at Goodwin Racing Ltd

Checks on the safety of Uckfield’s Christmas lights have been made with displays removed where thought to be a risk.

11pm update, December 23: Flooding to properties in part of Buxted is now “expected”, the Environment Agency has said.

It was moved from Flood Alert (flooding possible, be prepared) to the Flood Warning (flooding is expected, immediate action required) level for the River Uck between Parsonage Wood and the High Street at Buxted, including the Old Mill area.

More than 27mm of rain (more than an inch) has fallen over the area in the last 12 hours and river levels on the Uck are high and rising.

Around 30mm of rain is expected in the next 24 hours and river levels will continue to rise.

We have had a report via Facebook that the lower part of Fletching, Mill Road and Down Street are flooded.

10.30pm update, December 23: The flood gate at the Waitrose car park was closed tonight minutes after the last shopper left the supermarket at 10pm.

The closure of the gate (pictured), installed after the disastrous floods of 2000, was said to be a precaution.

Flood gate unlocked ready for closure in Uckfield

Flood gate unlocked ready for closure in Uckfield

Flood gate closed at the Waitrose car park, Uckfield

Flood gate being closed at the Waitrose car park, Uckfield

There is no certainty of what the River Uck will do over the next few hours with levels fluctuating in response to the rain.

Storm force winds continue to batter the town with heavy rain falling.

Businesses are beginning to take precautions in case the river should overflow.

The River Uck on the Bellbrook Business Park is extremely wide.

7.30pm update, Monday, December 23: The Environment Agency has re-issued a flood alert for the River Uck.

It said on its website: “Flooding to properties is possible.

“The area is now saturated following the rainfall over the last couple of days.

“Rainfall totals for Monday night into Tuesday morning is forecast to be around 40 mm – 65 mm.

“Levels on the River Uck will rise quickly with the forecast rainfall. Properties at the following locations are potentially at risk of flooding – Buxted, Isfield and properties close to the river throughout the Uck catchment.

“Our incident room is open and we are monitoring the situation throughout the night. Further warnings may be issued as required.”

At 8pm, the river was in full spate through Uckfield and was just below the pipe, which crosses the river upstream of town bridge.

It was foaming and speeding through the town as can be seen by our photographs.River Uck Dec 23 2013 B

Train operator Southern has reported a tree down on the Uckfield line at Crowborough. Services were suspended although a train arrived at the station at about 11.30pm.

Southern  has already said there may be delays tomorrow (December 24) morning.

It said on its website: “In order to ensure safe operation on Tuesday, 24 December, routes will need to be checked and any obstructions cleared before train services can start.

“This is highly likely to lead to services being significantly disrupted or cancelled and it may take some time to clear routes, depending on the extent of damage caused by the storm.

“Passengers are asked to check before they travel and to plan for a later start of train services on Tuesday morning.”

Roads: A tree came down in Church Street, Uckfield. There are also trees down all around the area. They are being cleared by teams from East Sussex Roads.

Drivers are being warned of standing water in a number of locations in East Sussex with the danger of trees falling.

Emergency road repairs are to be carried out on the A22 near Halland where a large pothole has appeared. Vehicle tyres have been punctured.

Roads police have Tweeted: “Wheelie bins and other detritus likely to blown around so as well as large puddles expect the unexpected in the roads.”

Chief Inspector Jim Bartlett from Sussex Police’s Operations department said: “We can expect a lot more rain and even stronger winds overnight with the weather changeable over the next few days.

“The heavy rainfall will lead to significant surface water. Strong winds have already led to fallen trees and hazards in the road. Our message to road users is to be cautious, slow down and allow extra time for your journey and and watch out for hazards such as gusts of wind and large puddles that you don’t see in the dark.

“We urge everyone to remain vigilant and advise people not to walk or drive through floodwater.

“We are working with our partners across Sussex and doing all we can to keep people safe and the roads clear.”

8am update, Monday, December 23: The flood alert has been lifted by the Environment Agency. The Met Office “Amber” warning of rain remains in force.

Yesterday’s story is below.

Stormy weather forecast for the next 24 hours may lead to flooding in the Uckfield area, the Environment Agency has warned.

It has issued a general flood alert for the River Uck and the Framfield, Ridgewood and Tickerage Streams.

The agency said: “Most catchments in Sussex have become saturated following rainfall over recent days, and the River Uck is very responsive as a result.

“Looking towards the beginning of the week, an area of low pressure is expected to move over the country throughout Monday (December 22) into Tuesday bringing with it further heavy rainfall with potential high totals up to 60mm.

“Based on this forecast there is a definite risk to low lying roads and property throughout the area and river levels at the time of this flood alert update still remain high in the Isfield area on the River Uck.

“We are monitoring 24 hours a day and will update this message as the situation changes.”

A Flood Alert is the lowest level of warning. It means flooding is possible, be prepared.

Next step up is a Flood Warning = flooding is expected; immediate action required.

The Uck is split into four “warning” areas but none are in force at present.

Environment Agency

Train operator Southern is warning of delays and cancellations on Monday, December 22.

Speeds may be limited to 50mph.

National Rail

The Met Office is forecasting a spell of heavy rainfall with gale to severe gale force winds.

It said: “The public should be prepared for the likelihood of some significant disruption due to the combined hazards of heavy rainfall and high winds.

“The rainfall should clear south east England on Tuesday (December 24) morning, with the winds moderating from the west.”

An “amber” warning is in force. It means: “Be prepared”.

Met Office

See also:

Lady’s watch found in Uckfield

2014/15 council tax update

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