Parts of Kent could be hit by the worst floods seen in the county for 60 years overnight. That's the warning tonight from the Environment Agency.
The most severe warning possible - danger to life - has been issued for Sandwich near Deal. Gravesend, Medway and Seasalter are also at high risk of serious flooding. In all, between 1,500 and 2,000 coastal and riverside homes are said to be in danger.
A number of factors are combining to cause concern. High winds are coinciding with high spring tides causing a prolonged surge down the east coast and into the Channel.
The high risk times are just before 1 o'cock in the morning - the area most at risk is The Quay at Sandwich, where the Environment Agency says flood defences are likely to be breached. Sarah Saunders reports.
There is more information about the flood warnings on the Environment Agency website.
Dover District Council is working with Kent Police and partner agencies to evacuate 178 properties in Sandwich.
A door-to-door evacuation is taking place. If you are not informed that you need to evacuate, then there is no need to do so at this stage. If you are asked to evacuate, please ensure your property is secure, including switching off any gas and electricity supply. Please take any necessary items with you, including medication.
If you have been told to evacuate and choose not to go to the Rest Centre or elsewhere, please make sure you inform relatives.
Dover District Council has set up a Rest Centre at the Sandwich Sport & Leisure Centre (Sandwich Technology College) on Deal Road, Sandwich."
Due to strong winds our Dover/Calais/Dover services are running between 60 and 90 minutes behind schedule.
The Environment Agency have updated their severe flood warnings. There are not 3 warnings in Kent.
- Properties seaward of the tidal defences in Gravesend, Denton and Greenhithe
- Coastal areas from Higham Marshes to Seasalter, excluding Sheerness and Queenborough
- The Quay, Sandwich
A severe weather warning has been issued for the Kent coast tonight and tomorrow. Gale force winds and a serious tidal surge are being predicted by forecasters. The Environment Agency has issued the most serious level of flood warning for the east Kent town of Sandwich.
Sarah Saunders has sent this report.
The Environment Agency live flood risk map here shows the areas under threat from the tidal surge expected at 12.46am tomorrow morning and 1.06pm on Friday lunchtime. Anyone wanting more information about their local area should phone the flood advice line on 0845 988 1188.
The Environment Agency has issued flood alerts for the following areas in Kent.
- Coast from Fairlight to Dungeness including the Tidal Rother
- Coast from Sandgate to Dungeness
- Coast from Pegwell Bay to Deal including the Tidal Stour
- Coast from Seasalter to Margate
- Tidal Medway, Swale and Coastal Isle of Sheppey
- Coast from Dartford to Allhallows
The Port of Dover has said it is preparing for the possibility of a tidal surge as gale winds combine with high spring water tides later today.
Last night, staff conducted a full scale inspection of the Port estate in order to assess the potential impact of the predicted weather conditions on Port operations and on neighbouring businesses and residences.
Customers are being advised to contact their chosen ferry operator before travelling.
Gale force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides and a significant coastal surge.
Flooding of some coastal communities is expected and some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a tidal surge.
Coastal paths and promenades will be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of people being swept out to sea..."