Patcham is today bracing itself for heavy rainfall and gale force winds – as water sits just centimetres from flooding homes.
Residents are preparing for the onset of creeping groundwater as they lay down sandbags, move out furniture and position pumps to protect their properties.
Terry Mills, assistant manager of The Black Lion in London Road, said: “It is no longer a question of if, it is a question of when.
“We have to check our cellar hourly.”
The Met Office yesterday issued severe weather warnings starting from today for 80mph winds. Up to 60mm of rain is forecast to fall from tomorrow afternoon until Saturday evening as one of the wettest ever starts to a year continues.
At 6.30am today, the level of groundwater in Patcham sat at 43.7 metres above ordnance datum (AOD).
The council said the rate of rise had fallen from yesterday, but the levels are still on the up – and at 45 metres basements begin to flood.
The rising water levels sparked a public meeting at Patcham’s Memorial Hall on last night, organised by the city council.
Amid information and advice about what to do before, during and after flooding, residents said more should be done to protect their homes.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald OBE said agencies “must get this problem under control”.
He added: “This flooding keeps happening. First it was supposed to be once every hundred years. That then became once every 50 years, then it almost happened last year and now again.”
The Environment Agency advises residents to check flood warning messages, to pack a flood kit containing all essential emergency items and important personal documents, and to turn off gas, water and electricity to reduce the risk of injury.
Travel problems are expected throughout Sussex, with Southeastern advising passengers of possible disruptions, as trains are advised to run at reduced speeds.