As Christmas Eve’s early morning storm begins to ease, Sussex Police are urging people to stay alert to the dangers left in its wake - and to be aware of yet another period of severe weather expected late Boxing Day or early Friday (December 27).
Chief Inspector Natalie Moloney said: “While the wind has dropped and the rain is forecast to ease this afternoon, there are still problems around the county with flooded roads, fallen trees and power cables and dangerous seas.
“Drivers need to be aware of large expanses of surface water that can cause loss of control when hit at even moderate speeds.
“All road users, including pedestrians, should not attempt to enter flood water unless they are absolutely confident about how deep it is and that there are no hidden hazards such as pot holes or a current caused by a stream or river that has broken its banks. If you do drive through water, test your brakes as soon as you are out of it.
“There has been a substantial number of trees brought down in the storm and with softened ground and weakened roots, more are likely to come down over the next few days. Adjust your driving accordingly and don’t assume that the road is going to be clear just around the corner.
“Similarly, don’t assume that any cables lying in the road are ‘just’ telephone wires. There are a lot of power lines down and you should not go anywhere near them - they could be lethal.
“The power of Mother Nature is probably at its most dramatic by the sea, but again, beaches can be very hazardous places as Sussex has learnt to its cost over the past couple of months with people being swept away at Brighton and Newhaven. There is an enormous amount of weight behind a crashing wave, extremely strong undertows and almost cliff faces of shingle within a few feet of the shore with sheer drops of several feet into deep water.
“If you’re going to the seaside this festive season, then enjoy the spectacle from a distance and make sure that your children and pets do as well.
“With trains, buses and flights disrupted, the traditional Christmas Eve rush is likely to extend well into the evening and the roads will be busy. Be prepared for delays, keep your concentration and make sure that your vehicle is fit for the journey. Top up the windscreen washer tank as there’s no end of muck about on the roads, check all of your lights are working and make sure that they are clean.
“Weather forecasters are warning that we could be seeing more rough weather arriving late on on Boxing Day, so be prepared for more of the same if you are travelling back after Christmas.
“Finally, even if you’re not travelling, be aware of vulnerable neighbours, friends and family, especially if there are power cuts in your area. All of the emergency services, local authorities and other agencies are working flat out to keep Sussex safe and running, but you can do your part to make sure that people around you are also able to enjoy a comfortable and relaxed festive season.”