A Lewes trader was one of the first to receive money from loss adjusters to pay for damage caused by floods.

Yesterday organic butcher Colin Staplehurst, who trades from Riverside in Lewes, received £10,000 from the Ashworth Mair Group.

It is one of the first of many payments the company, which has an office in Crawley, expects to make to hundreds of clients affected by the floods.

But spokesman Paul Greenaway dismissed early estimates which put the cost of damage to homes and businesses at £4 billion as "ludicrous".

He said: "Early indications look as if the bill will be between £60 and £100 million."

East Sussex County Council has appealed to the Government for extra funds.

Cheryl Miller, the council's chief executive, highlighted in a letter the huge financial burden the floods would have on the county and borough councils.

The Conservative Party is now calling for a public inquiry into house-building plans for nearly one million new homes in the region.

MP Damian Green, Conservative environment spokesman, said: "The devastation by the floods shows there are questions that need answering."

His party is demanding to know the dangers of building on flood plains.

Mr Green said: "John Prescott should put on hold his plans to concrete over the South of England until we discover the facts about the danger from flooding."

Environmental health officers have told residents to wear rubber gloves when clearing up. Those suffering from stomach upsets have also been told to contact their GP as a precaution.

There are counselling sessions from 7pm to 9pm at the Mind Centre, in Western Road, for those traumatised by their ordeal.

Help to replace small household items has been offered by Philip Hamilton, Rector of St Anne's Church, who has joined forces with Lewes District Council chairman Maureen Messer.

There is a collection centre for unwanted goods and toys at the O'Donnell Centre, in Western Road.

More than 80 postal workers from Lewes are now helping to sort the town's mail in Brighton.

To bring some relief to residents, the Esterhazy Chamber Choir will perform Mozart's Requiem and the Solemn Vespers at Lewes Town Hall on Sunday.

Some members of the Lewes-based choir were affected by the flooding. Bass Andrew Greenan and his family were rescued by lifeboat and part of their Lewes home was ruined.

He said: "If we are lucky, life will be back to normal by Christmas. But we are alive and for many of us this performance will be an act of thanksgiving."