TORRENTIAL downpours caused chaos in south Essex as roads and shops were hit by severe flooding.

This morning  Essex Police urged  motorists to avoid the A127, particularly at the Rayleigh Weir, which remains flooded  after Saturday's heavy rain. Officers say they are working with Essex County Council to get the water pumped away and reopen the road as soon as possible.

More than 200 incidents of flooding were reported to police on Saturday with areas worst affected including Southend, Canvey, Maldon, Burnham, Battlesbridge and Benfleet.

A police spokesman said: "Officers would like to remind people not to drive through any flood water."

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service received more than 300 calls to flooding incidents overnight.

The most severely affected areas were in the east of the county with the vast majority of calls coming from Hockley, Canvey, Westcliff, Rayleigh, Basildon, Billericay and Leigh.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Bill said: "Both our control operators and officers did an excellent job last night. We fielded and dealt with more than 300 calls to incidents involving flooding and our staff worked extremely hard in difficult conditions rising to the challenge last night's weather presented.

"On the whole officers were sent to incidents to asses and if there was risk to people or the environment crews would attend to pump the water away."

The drama started at lunchtime on Saturday.

Motorists suffered long delays after the London-bound A127 was closed between the Mayflower retail park and the Fortune of War at around 1.15pm on Saturday following a burst man hole cover caused by the heavy rainfall.

Rayleigh Weir underpass was shut to traffic because of the severe flooding which meant traffic was diverted up the slip road. It remained closed this morning. See picture below by Lewis Gordon

Basildon Standard: cscsa

Eastern Esplanade in Southend was also under 1ft of water. Meanwhile in Western Esplande, flood water cascaded down to the seafront. The flooding also affected Southend seafront arcades.

And Victoria Road, Southend (below - pic by Steve Healey) was badly hit.

Basildon Standard: vic road 2 flooding.jpg

The heavy rain caused a nightmare for motorists across south Essex:

  • The A129 Southend Road in Wickford was blocked in both directions between the Bridge Road junction and Vista Road because of surface water on the roads
  • Flooding was also affected the A13 Bournes Green Chase in both directions in North Shoebury between Poynters Lane and the Elm Road junction. Shoppers could not get into Asda in Shoebury as a result of the flooding.  Picture below by Echo reader Mike Childs

Basildon Standard: Heavy Rain and floods

  • Other key areas were also hit by flooding, including the Rayleigh Weir roundabout, the Harp House roundabout in Southend and Daws Heath Road in Thundersley.
  • Western Esplanade in Southend was shut due to the weather
  •  Chalkwell Esplanade and Thorpe Hall Avenue in Thorpe Bay were blocked because of the flooding. Prince Avenue in Westcliff was also blocked.

Andy Lewis, a Southend Council director said: “We are responding to numerous issues that have arisen across the borough as a result of heavy rain today.

“Our Environmental Care teams and the Council’s Emergency Planning Officer are working closely with our contractors, plus Anglia Water and the emergency services to respond as best we can to incidents of flooding that have been caused by the severe weather.”

Norwich Avenue, Southend, was also hit by the deluge, illustrated in the picture below by Echo reader Reece Taylor

Basildon Standard: Norwich Avenue, Southend. Pic taken by Echo reader Reece Taylor

In Billericay, the Waitrose store was flooded. About 1.5ft of water was pumped out of the store by firefighters. Other shops were also affected.

Rail company Greater Anglia reported delays and cancellations of some trains after flooding affected Prittlewell Station.

Hazardous driving conditions were also reported on Billericay High Street due to severe flooding.

Essex Fire and Rescue Service Control Operators received a large number of calls to flooding incidents caused by this morning's rain. The incidents have largely centred on Basildon, Billericay, Benfleet and Southend. Over the course of the morning the Service has received dozens of calls with calls continuing to flood in.

Fire officers are warning drivers to take care and not get themselves and their families trapped by driving into flood water.

Just 2ft of water is enough to float a car and six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars; this depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling as water is sucked into the exhaust or washes into the air intake.

Motorists should never attempt to drive through water deeper than the centre of their wheels. If water gets into the car’s air intake or into the electrics the car will stop leaving driver and passengers trapped.

The water could also be hiding damaged road or missing manhole covers.

Motorists should take particular care when crossing fords, these often become flooded and extremely dangerous with fast flowing water.

A spokesman for ECFRS said: "It is important that when faced with water drivers 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

Motorists are being urged to drive with caution during the bad weather.