Crawley and Horley were some of the areas worst hit by flooding in the county.
A woman was able to row across a flooded farm in Horley and firefighters in Crawley rescued people from cars in floodwater and pumped water out of homes.
A spokesman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) said the area was ‘definitely’ the worst affected in the county after crews attended nine flood-related incidents in less than four hours on Sunday (January 3).
Joanna Barnett, of Smallfield, rowed across a flooded field in Fishers Farm, Limes Avenue to highlight people’s concerns over council plans to build a 172 acre business park there.
Joanna, of Keep Horley Green, claimed the scheme would mean nearby homes would flood. She added: “That’s public money and that should not be spent trying to pave over a flood plain.
“It’s absolutely obscene.”
Firefighters rescued three people after a car got stuck in floodwater in Lowfield Heath Road near Charlwood. Two cars were moved to safe ground.
Firefighters pumped water out of three Crawley properties within two hours on Sunday. Surrey and Sussex crews were called to flooded homes in Gossops Drive, Southgate Drive and Malthouse Road.
Crews were also called to floods in Fairway, Ifield twice, Fisher Close, Southgate, and Puffin Road, Ifield.
A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council (CBC) said the Environment Agency’s (EA) £18m Upper Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme has reduced the flood risk in the area. Elements included the dam at Tilgate Lake, which added protection to Tilgate, Furnace Green and Three Bridges. Work continued at Clays Lake and Worth Farm to help provide extra protection to Maidenbower and Three Bridges.
The EA warned of potential flooding in the area following heavy rainfall at the weekend. A spokesman said more homes and roads could flood this week.
The area’s floods followed devastation from torrential rains in the north of England. Crawley MP Henry Smith said: “Fortunately Crawley has not seen such repetitive and disruptive weather over recent weeks as northern England is suffering, however, following flooding in the 2000s which affected areas such as Ifield, Three Bridges, Furnace Green, Tilgate, Maidenbower, Gatwick and other parts, one of issues I raised on being elected MP to Parliament in 2010 were flood defences.
“Over the last five years more than £12 million has been spent on flood protection measures for our town by the Government through the Environment Agency and local authorities. Of course with extreme conditions there are never any guarantees though.”
Crawley council leader Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said: “Two years ago the UK was hit by major flooding, including many properties in Crawley. At the time the Prime Minister promised that ‘money is no object’ in preventing future flooding, yet for the tens of thousands facing misery over Christmas his words are proven hollow.
“Despite flooding falling outside our main responsibilities, Crawley Borough Council’s capital programme includes £9.3m of measures which help reduce the risk of flooding in Crawley. Yet, the borough council’s money and authority only goes so far, the question is: how far can we trust the Government and county council to do their bit?”
Colin Lloyd, cabinet member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said: “All of the pro-active work we put in before the heavy rain came over the weekend, coupled with the many flood prevention measures we’ve put in place over the past 16 years, have helped to reduce flooding in Crawley. There was a lot of rain over the weekend – and more is forecast this week – and our preventative work will continue to help reduce the flood risk.”