Christmas flood fear continues for many

Drivers had to look out for surface water

Drivers had to look out for surface water

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Many families sat down to Christmas dinner with an eye on the local river as December’s rainfall heads for the record books.

Christmas Eve dawned with the Environment Agency reporting 246 flood alerts and 127 flood warnings across the country.

The River Lark running high and flooding fields at Cavenham Heath on Christmas Eve

The River Lark running high and flooding fields at Cavenham Heath on Christmas Eve

They included alerts for Suffolk’s Rattlesden river and the River Gipping in two places and for Norfolk’s Little Ouse and River Thet.

The Met Office had issued yellow ‘be aware’ warnings for the East of England to the west of Cambridge on Saturday and Sunday with, steady rain in the east. Then a ‘be aware’ warning for all of East Anglia on Christmas Eve with for showers to continue over Christmas and Boxing day.

Russell Moreley, a Rattlesden parish councillor, said on Christmas Eve that the river through the village was still 18in to 2ft below the bank tops.

But he added: “The ditches running into it are full and the fields are water logged.

“Providing we have nothing more than light rain over the next two or three days, I guess we will be all right.”

Yesterday he said the family had kept an eye on river levels and, like many of their neighbours, had sandbags prepared.

“I expect we’ll all be sitting here with our sandbags ready for the next few days,” he said.

Suffolk Police said there were no reports of serious flooding in the countybut there had been minor flooding on some roads.

But it is hardly surprising the rivers are high. Bury St Edmunds weather recorder Alan Messem said: “This month we’ve had 72mm of reain already. The December average is 56mm.

“Over the five days to Christmas Eve we’ve had 35mm, so more than half the average in just five days.”

He expects this to be about the fourth wettest December since 1997.

For a year that started with a ‘drought’ there has been a complete turn around. Mr Messem said rainfall was below average until April and has been above average ever since.

The region’s average rainfall is around 600mm but by Christmas Eve we had already had 766mm and more rain is forecast for the next five days, though Sunday should see the occasional sunshine break through.

You can keep up to date with weather warnings at the Met Office’s website at www.metoffice.gov.uk and with flood warnings on the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk