Residents who watched as parts of the county were flooded by a deluge of water said they are “petrified” that their houses could be damaged.

Homes, warehouses and holiday parks across West Sussex including Littlehampton and Shoreham were left underwater by torrential flooding this morning. Hundreds of people were evacuated by dinghies and emergency services after the River Arun burst its banks during Storm Kathleen.

Dave Podesta, of Tudor View in Littlehampton, said the flooding was the “worst he has seen in 20 years”.

The 75-year-old added: “We had water through here. We were lucky, the ones down the road were evacuated.

“It’s worrying, it’s such a nice place to live. I have got to put up with it.”

The Argus:

Residents in Rope Walk and Ferry Road were evacuated from their homes. One of them, who did not wish to be named, said he saw water pour from the shipyard where walls had broken, into the street and affecting his back garden and driveway.

“I hate living here now," he said. "I just think it’s just going to be a matter of time before it’s all flooded.

“I’ve been here 14 years… last night was, Jesus, it was quite terrible.

"The pressure and the torrent of the water was like you couldn’t walk through it.

“You would get knocked down, the water was that powerful.”

Another business owner said her 70-year-old parents were evacuated in the early hours of the morning.

Christine Coe, 54, the owner of Rita’s Diner in Rope Walk, said her premises were “luckily” untouched by the flood water but the situation was “very bad”. Her husband’s workshops, where he runs a classic car business, were “underwater”.

She added: “I’ve spoken with my parents, they’re staying with family at the moment, but they can’t come back to their bungalow because it’s underwater.

“Where [Rita’s Diner] is situated, the water comes down the side of it, luckily, so it hasn’t actually come in yet, and I’m hoping it won’t come in on the next tide. My main concern is for the residents and all the other businesses.”

In the early hours of this morning, 180 people were evacuated from a Selsey caravan park after camping out in a pub and being rescued by the Coastguard and RNLI with dinghies.

The fire service declared a major incident and Arun District Council set up a refuge centre in Wave Littlehampton Leisure Centre.

Julie Everitt, living in Rope Walk, said she was “petrified” when water rushed into her front garden.

The Argus:

Julie, 67, said: “I was petrified because I was out in the front garden just to see how far it was coming up and then all of a sudden, there was a surge.

“I ran down my side gate and it was too late because by the time I got in my garden, my garden was flooded and I was about two inches deep, treading in it and it was the smell as well, because obviously all the drains…

“There was lots of debris everywhere where it all floated in and there’s loads of dead worms, funnily enough, slugs, snails and worms were floating in it, but it’s gone down now.”

Flood warnings remain in place after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning amid Storm Kathleen.

In Shoreham, the A259 was completely flooded with a gym owner saying his business was significantly damaged.

A resident in the town said he watched in disbelief as the area was engulfed in floodwaters.

Gareth Theobald, 36, said: “I was out the front of the building and watching the water just get higher and higher and higher, and then helping or stopping traffic going into the floodwaters and then just watching in disbelief as the whole of Brighton Road and our multimillion-pound development was being engulfed by floodwaters.”

The industrial relations officer added: “The amount of water is scary and unprecedented and those houses opposite our development are lower-ground flats and they were all flooded under a foot or so of water.”

He said he saw cars “driving into the floods at speed as well and getting stuck” and that “residents in the streets (were) trying to do what they can”.

A spokesman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: "We currently have three severe flooding incidents happening across the county in Earnley, Littlehampton and Bracklesham as the River Arun to burst its banks.

"At around midnight we were alerted to the first flooding incident in Littlehampton, which primarily affected Ferry Road and Rope Walk. In total, 15 people were evacuated.

"Shortly after 1am we then responded to a flooding incident at Medmerry Holiday Park, Earnley.

"In total around 180 people were evacuated. South East Coast Ambulance Service has assessed and triaged a number of people at a nearby facility, and one person showing signs of hypothermia has been taken to hospital at this time.

"Fire crews have now left both incidents, and the situation in these two areas will be closely monitored throughout the day.

"And finally, at around 6.40am crews were made aware of flooding at Bracklesham Caravan and Boat Club. Evacuations of around 20 people are underway.

"The water levels have not yet receded and those who have been evacuated remain displaced. 

"It is also possible that the flooding may increase throughout the day. People directly affected should get to high ground if possible, unless unable to leave their residence. Otherwise, please avoid the areas to allow rescue operations to continue safely and effectively.

"Anyone requiring lifesaving intervention or trapped in their residence should use 999 to contact the Fire and Rescue Service or the coastguard."​