Rivers were being frantically cleared last night as bands of heavy rain threatened to flood West Sussex.

The county was warned to brace itself for a deluge as torrential showers sweeping across the UK were due to hit the county. Forecasters were expecting up to 6cm of rain to have fallen by this afternoon in parts of the country.

With the ground saturated and rivers at bursting point from two weeks of wet weather, homes and businesses were at high risk. Surface water was also expected to disrupt road and rail networks.

Environment Agency officers were working through the night to ensure rivers and flood defences were clear and flowing as quickly as possible. A spokeswoman said workers were particularly concentrating on Chichester, Worthing and Haywards Heath.

Craig Woolhouse, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Our teams are out around the clock to minimise the risks and pre- pare for flooding, clearing drainage channels and ensuring that flood defences are working properly.

"We urge people to keep up to date with the weather forecast and local news overnight and remain prepared for flooding in their area by signing up to receive free flood warnings and staying away from dangerous flood water."

Today’s deluge will not be end of the rain, with forecasts of up to seven days of unsettled conditions as a series of wet weather systems engulf the UK. Last month rivers burst their banks and fields were flooded across the UK.

Keep up to date with the latest information from the Environment Agency website www.environmentagency.gov.uk/flood

Sign up to free flood warnings by calling the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188, check your route for disruption before travelling and not to drive or walk through floodwater.

Have you been affected by flooding? Call us on 01273 544514 or email pictures to newsdesk@theargus.co.uk.