Torrential rain fell as thunderstorms and flash floods caused chaos.

Storm clouds gathered last night as heavy rain came down, overrunning drains, swamping roads and bursting through ceilings.

Firefighters were inundated with calls as they attended incidents of lightning strikes, ceiling collapses and floods in basements and properties. Every fire engine in Brighton and Hove was out as they battled the rising tide.

Rainwater burst through the ceiling at the Old Ship Hotel on the seafront as guests arrived for the Brighton Fashion Week catwalk events.

Ceiling lights in the reception foyer let streams of water through at about 6.15pm.

Two properties in Hove were struck by lightning, however neither strike resulted in a fire.

The Met Office issued a severe weather warning for rain as the downpour came down.

Alice Johnson, 25, from Seven Dials, said: “I was out jogging and the heavens opened. I have never seen anything like it.

“The thunder and lightning was directly overhead. It was terrifying. I have never heard a storm so loud and so ferocious.”

Water poured into the Tesco store in Jubilee Street as the ceiling tiles came down.

Cat Smith, who was sheltering from the storm in the store, said: “It flooded the shop and then a large part of the ceiling collapsed near us. The amount of water was scary and we were asked to stay to one side of the shop until we could leave safely.”





Drivers reported huge tailbacks as cars dared to drive through up to 14in of water.

Brain Blunden, a cabbie for Brighton Streamline, said: “I came up by St Peter’s Church and that was completely flooded.

“All the traffic was right back from Preston Circus, no one wanted to drive through.

“The drains couldn’t cope, it was bouncing straight over them.”

Businesses and the basement of a block of flats in Middle Street were also flooded.

Andy Cheesman, owner of Buddies restaurant, said it was the first time in 20 years he had seen flooding there. He said: “The drains were overpowered, they were full of leaves and dirt. Water came up into the fish and chip shop side of Buddies.

“The water began to subside and we used long bits of wood to hammer the drains clear.

“There was a quarter of a metre of water in the basement of the flats and there was about 14in in Middle Street, which came up over the curb line.”

Also see: Your Pictures - a gallery of images from the storm of October 10

Replay our live blog covering the storm of October 10