Crawley on flood alert as river levels climb
CRAWLEY was on flood watch this week as the River Mole on the town's border threatened to burst its banks.
The Civic Hall, in the town centre, was put on standby to be turned into a shelter in case residents had to be evacuated.
But at midday yesterday the Environment Agency's flood warning for the town had been downgraded to a flood alert.
As we went to press on Tuesday afternoon it was hoped this flood alert could be removed later in the day as the river's level dropped.
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Residents close to the River Mole in Ifield had watched nervously as a month's rain fell in 24 hours on Monday.
Back in December 2008, the river did break its banks and 47 elderly residents at The Gables nursing home had to be rescued.
Harry Jagannath, manager of the home on Ifield Green, explained how it now has its own flood defences around it.
He said: "Luckily the water levels have been dropping down, much to our relief.
"I put together an emergency plan with all the numbers I needed. I phoned around other nursing homes to make sure they had beds in case we needed them."
Further down the road, at White Dresses and Tiaras bridal boutique, staff were feeling relaxed about the flood alert.
Paula Miller, whose daughter Claire runs the shop, said: "I know it floods further down the road but we're on a slope here, so we're hoping any flood won't reach this end.
"If it does rain any more we'll just have to get in quickly and move all the dresses upstairs and put down sandbags."
Dog walker Christine Wheatley had water up to her thighs on Monday when she was out in Ifield.
She said: "Ifield Brook Meadow wasn't passable down by the river. Today (Tuesday) the water has dropped back down again."
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service's command centre in Chichester received more than 200 calls between midnight and 9am on Monday, with coastal areas worst affected.
However, there were no reported injuries.
In Crawley, part of Ifield Avenue was briefly closed on Monday and Tuesday until flood water receded.
Julia Simpson, from the Environment Agency, said that residents should remain vigilant as rain is forecast for every day this week with potentially heavy rainfall at the weekend.
Crawley Borough Council was continuing to monitor the River Mole and Ifield Brook as the News went to press.