England

Stormy weather: Flood warnings and South East gales alert

Little Venice Country Park in Yalding on 2 January Image copyright PA/Gareth Fuller
Image caption Residents of the Little Venice Country Park in Yalding were flooded a year ago

People along the River Medway in Kent from Tonbridge to Maidstone have been told to prepare for flooding overnight, with gales of up to 75mph (120km/h).

The Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings for Kent, including the Little Venice Country Park in Yalding, with up to 2in (50mm) of rain forecast.

Motorists across the South East have also been been urged to take care.

Both the Met Office and the Highways Agency have issued amber weather alerts meaning "be prepared" for high winds.

Rain is expected to spread east during the evening, becoming locally heavy overnight before clearing on Thursday morning.

Tim Connell, area duty manager for the Environment Agency, said staff were "working hard to minimise flood risk by clearing debris from streams and culverts, closing flood gates and checking flood defences and other structures".

Kent County Council (KCC) said additional resources had been put on standby to deal with any flooding and fallen trees.

Tree surgeons will be available and additional sandbags have been delivered to all its depots.

Speed restrictions could be put in place on the Sheppey Crossing and QE2 Bridge in Kent, and the Shoreham flyover near Brighton from 21:00 GMT.

Image copyright Drusillas Park
Image caption Zoo keepers at Drusillas Park in East Sussex removed a fallen eucalyptus tree to prevent the lemurs from climbing out of their compound

The weather delayed cross-Channel ferries by up to two hours earlier.

Gusts are also expected to reach up to 65mph (104 km/h) on south eastern parts of the M25.

A spokesman for the agency said: "Road users are advised to plan for their journey before they set out, to allow plenty of extra time if travel conditions are poor or to consider delaying their journey if the weather becomes severe."

UK Power Networks said it was also monitoring the weather closely.

In a statement, it said: "If the storm materialises and affects power supplies, our paramount focus will be on restoring electricity to customers as quickly and safely as possible."

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Meanwhile, high winds have already made their mark in the lemur enclosure at Drusillas Park, in Alfriston, East Sussex, where a large eucalyptus tree was brought down.

Zoo keepers removed the fallen tree to prevent the animals from climbing out of the compound.

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