Homes and businesses in a seaside town were flooded when a river burst its banks.
The overflowing River Adur submerged areas of Shoreham in the early hours of yesterday morning after high tides combined with a coastal surge caused the flooding.
The worst hit areas were Brighton Road and Ferry Road.
The Environment Agency issued five severe flood warnings, four flood warnings and 10 flood alerts across the south east coastline.
Rod Gates, crew manager at Shoreham Community Fire Station, said: “It all kicked off at about 12.30am when we were called to Brighton Road in Shoreham near the Sussex Yacht Club.
“When we were making our way to the affected area it became quite apparent that we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near it because the River Adur had burst its banks.
“About 10 to 15 properties had been severely affected by flood water as well as Sussex Yacht Club.”
One belongs to Rob Drummond of New Road, Shoreham.
The rear of Mr Drummond’s house backs on to Brighton Road, which he said was knee-deep in water by 1am.
About three inches of water had flooded the downstairs of his house.
Mr Drummond, 53, said: “It doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re actually standing in it and it’s in your home it is.
“We didn’t know anything about it so we couldn’t prepare. They said the East Coast and Kent on the news but no one mentioned Shoreham.
“You could hear it coming through into the house – it sounded like a mini waterfall.”
Mr Drummond and his family spent the next four hours emptying the water with buckets and a dustpan and brush.
The extent of the damage to his property was not yet clear.
He added: “At the moment we don’t know if it will affect anything in the long-term but the skirting boards can expand and we have a tiled floor, but whether there’s any damage to it I don’t know.”
In preparation for the second tidal surge, which was due to hit at 1pm, Mr Drummond built a mini concrete wall in front of his back gate, surrounded by sand bags.
“I have lived here six years and never experienced anything like this before,” he added.
“It’s just a case now of trying to do as much as we can to stop any more flooding.”
Riverside Business Centre was also deluged with flood water, so the fire crew had to request back-up which came from Hove Community Fire Station, who sent two engines, and Worthing Community Fire Station, who supplied one.
Mr Gates added: “We were in the area for about three hours pumping water out and we were able to save three properties that would have been destroyed by the floods.
“It’s not a lot, but at least it’s something.”
Rupert Hugill, 40, of Brighton Road, managed to contain the flooding to just his living room and described the response of the emergency services as “really, really, brilliant”.
“I phoned the fire brigade and police at around 1am as the water was crashing into everyone’s properties.
“They were just fantastic and got here in about 10 minutes. “Luckily we have these steps going into the house which are a built in flood defence.
“We just used anything to try and stop the water and put duvets, clothes and pillows down to soak it up.”
When the emergency services thought their work was done, fire fighters were alerted to the Waterside Inn in Ferry Road in Shoreham on the other side of the river.
Lucy Gabriel defiantly defends her home on Brighton Road, Shoreham, from the rising water
Mr Gates said: “The water had come all the way up Ferry Road and the pub bore the brunt of the floods.
“In the cellar, water was 1.2m deep and it became clear quite quickly that everything in there was destroyed.
“There were huge, heavy freezers floating about as well as all the stock – we were there pumping until 6am.
“When we were driving back, we saw the lifeboat house on Kingston Lane, and that was surrounded by flood water too.
“I’ve lived here in Shoreham for 22 years and I’ve never seen the tide come in like that – it’s really quite shocking.
“We’re expecting another high tide at about 1pm, so we’re told by fishermen to expect the same sort of thing.”
A spokesperson for the Waterside, said: “In the early hours of Friday, the Waterside was badly flooded.
“Since the team received a flood warning on Thursday afternoon, several damage control preparations were carried out.
“The Waterside is temporarily closed and it is all hands on deck while it is tidied up. The team is grateful for the support received from the community and looks forward to welcoming them back in the next few days.”
Newhaven was also hit by floods at the same time, with Newhaven Town Railway Station being hit hardest, forcing it to close because the line was under water.
Watch manager at Newhaven Community Fire Station George Harrison said: “We were waking residents and told them to turn their electric off and salvage anything they could.
“Thankfully the water receded before any serious damage was done.”
Newhaven Football Club awoke to find its outside pitch almost completely covered by flood water, while at least a third of the pitch nearest to the recreation ground was submerged.
Martin Garry, club secretary, said they would have to wait for the flood water to drain away naturally. He said: “We have a match on Saturday against AFC Uckfield Reserve but I won’t be able to say until the morning when I check the pitch whether we’ll be going ahead with it.”
The floods kept staff at Shoreham Airport busy yesterday morning too as they were forced to shift aircrafts and vehicles from standing water.
Ric Belfield, general manager, said: “The tidal walls were breached and damaged in last night’s storm surge causing extensive flooding.
“Many of the businesses on the air- port have been affected and there is substantial damage to the Tidal Walls.
“The airport management are working closely with the Environmental Agency (EA), the councils and the businesses on the airport to secure the flood defences.
“The Operational Airport will stay closed until the defences are secure.”
Five severe flood warnings, four flood warnings and ten flood alerts remained in place yesterday afternoon as the EA warned businesses and properties to remain vigilant.
To see our video report on this story, go to theargus.co.uk/video