Storm Ciarán in Worthing: Impact of flooding 'disaster' limited by quick-thinking residents and business owners

Quick-thinking residents and business owners limited a ‘disaster’ after a road in Worthing was hit by major flooding overnight.

Storm Ciarán’s effects were felt in Worthing this morning (Thursday, November 2), with people out trying to clear floodwater. People were seen helping clear drains in South Farm Road, with cars making their way through the deep water.

Jamie Smith, who owns work clothes shop Pinnacle near the junction with Teville Road wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “If it wasn’t for my staff the road would still be flooded and businesses wouldn’t have been able to open today. This happens every time it rains and the council continues to do nothing.”

Speaking to the Worthing Herald, the business owner added: “It just keeps on happening.

"This time, it really has come into the shop. It has ruined my carpet in the shopfront, showroom. The water has come into my office next door as well. It's a disaster.

“I've spoken with my landlord, who try to speak to the council and it's the same old story.

"They say 'it's on the list and we know it needs to be sorted' but nothing is done.

"It's always us that has to do it. Even after it's happened, we still don't see them. We get no help whatsoever.

“If it wasn't for us, this place would be under water.”

Mr Smith, who has worked on the road for 15 years, said flooding has ‘happened on a number of occasions’.

"I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I just want it to be addressed,” he said. “The council needs to stand up and actually do something about it. Be accountable for it."

West Sussex County Council, which has the lion’s share of responsibility for the road, has since issued a statement.

A spokesperson said: “Persistent, torrential downpours, including the current/most recent ones associated with Storm Ciaran, have saturated the ground, pushed ground water levels up to and, in some cases, above saturation point.

“Unfortunately, even the most efficient highway drainage systems can be overwhelmed in these severe conditions, forcing some roads to be flooded. Privately-owned land surrounding the highway will often be overwhelmed in these circumstances, too.”

The county council said it has 140,000 drainage gullies across West Sussex which are ‘maintained by our specialist contractor’.

"We prioritise gully cleansing based on hierarchy of the road and historic silt levels,” the spokesperson added.

"This year we have also put in additional resources to increase the amount of ad hoc cleansing.”

Mr Smith said the issue of flooding is worsened by leaves blocking the drains in the road – and claimed residents and business owners are left to clear them up.

A spokesperson for Adur & Worthing Councils said: “While West Sussex County Council is responsible for maintaining the drains, we are responsible for clearing debris that can block them.

“We employ additional members of staff each autumn to assist with clearing fallen leaves from our streets. Our teams have been out clearing leaves from our more than 500km of roads and pavements.

“However, high winds such as those experienced during Storm Ciarán can result in many trees losing their leaves at the same time, making this job extremely difficult.

“We have raised the issue of blocked drains with the county council and encouraged it to address drain clearance as a matter of urgency.

“Our cleansing teams are striving to clear road gullies and pavements of leaves so we’d ask residents to help by moving their parked cars when their road is scheduled for a clean.

“We’d also like to thank locals who have removed leaf litter to help drain flood water themselves.”

Residents can report road flooding or an overflowing gully via the county council website or by calling 01243 642105.