Wet weather 'set to continue' next month

EVENT organisers were left cursing the British weather again after a weekend of torrential downpours and storms – and it was warned last night there could be more to come.

By Annie Davidson

EVENT organisers were left cursing the British weather again after a weekend of torrential downpours and storms - and it was warned last night there could be more to come.

While the weather over East Anglia should become a bit more seasonal in the next few weeks, August is also likely to be unsettled.

Both Suffolk and Essex witnessed a deluge on Saturday and Sunday, with the rain hitting many events planned - leading to lower visitor numbers and some last minute alterations.

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And EADT weatherman Ken Blowers said last night: "July in East Anglia sees an average of 2.35 inches of rain, and we have had 3.05 inches already.

"This July it has rained 12 days out of 18. It's not the wettest on record for July, but we are way over the average for the month and we are only half way through it.

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"The rest of the month will be unsettled, but will become warmer and will end with temperatures of 25C or 77F. August will be unsettled and cool.'

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said there had been a little flooding in rural areas, but it had not proved much of a problem in the county.

In Essex, a fast food restaurant had to be evacuated after it was struck by lightning during a massive storm on Saturday lunchtime.

KFC in Braintree was hit during a thunderstorm just as it had closed due to a power cut.

During the same storm, a police station in Colchester had to run on emergency generators after a nearby sub station was also struck by lightning.

And businesses in Coggeshall had to mop up after torrential rain caused flooding and disrupted the village's annual carnival.

Eight staff members were in KFC when the lightning struck an advertising tower at one end of the restaurant. A fire then developed in the roof space of the restaurant on the A120 bypass.

Station Officer Steve Wintrip said: "It took us about 30 minutes to get the fire under control. "We had to crawl through a roof space to get access to it.

"The staff saw the lightning hit and evacuated straight away and called us. They did exactly the right thing."

A spokeswoman for KFC said: "We regard the safety of staff and customers as of highest importance.

"As soon as the incident occurred the building was evacuated and the fire brigade called."

Coggeshall carnival organiser Hazel Picknell-Stride said the downpour meant only eight of the expected 15 floats took part in the procession because the rest had been so damaged by the rain.

Majorettes went home from the event on Saturday after being drenched as they waited for the carnival to start.

And visiting carnival queens walked through the village because their floats were too wet to sit on.

But Mrs Picknell-Stride said the carnival spirit was not lost during the miserable conditions.

She said a surprising number of stalls and other attractions which formed the village fete remained on the recreation ground, where the carnival procession finished.

"We did have music during the procession so it wasn't a complete disaster but financially it won't be too crash hot," she said.

"What was worse as the rain came down as it did was for people to stand and watch all their hard work disintegrate.

"There were little children in their costumes standing and crying and that was worse.

"We have been very lucky really as we have not had a wet carnival for 15 years."

At the village's White Hart pub in Market End manager Fiona Higgins leapt into action as rainwater poured into the reception area.

Mrs Higgins said the water ran through the pub and out of another door into the car park.

"We could see it was about to happen and some customers helped me grab some sandbags, shut the doors and blocked it up," she said.

"There is a drain outside which blocks up and the water diverts into our double doors.

"We have a flagstone floor for that reason."

Clive Smalls, landlord of the Chapel Inn in nearby Market Hill, said the rainwater was of "biblical proportions" as it poured into the pub.

"It just came in and we couldn't stop it, it was a nightmare," he said.

Mr Smalls was full of praise for firefighters who arrived at the pub within three minutes of his emergency call and pumped the water out.

He added that die-hard regulars remained in the bar and continued to enjoy their drinks as the drama unfolded. Carpets will have to be replaced at the pub but it was open for business as usual yesterday.

Ben Benfield, who runs Ziggi gift shop in Church Street, said he fortunately had a high step at his shop and was able to keep the water at bay with a broom.

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