Torrential downpours and flooding have swamped parts of London and the South East in the early hours of EU referendum day causing travel chaos.
Thousands of morning rush hour commuters are facing severe delays after a huge thunderstorm last night caused a month’s worth of rain to fall in just a few hours.
Parts of the capital’s rail network are suspended or delayed while several roads are currently submerged in deep rainwater with reports of several tube stations being closed.
South West Trains services to and from London Waterloo were cancelled or delayed by up to an hour, while Greater Anglia services have also been suspended or disrupted due to flooding at Manor Park.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it received hundreds of calls to incidents including lightning striking property, flooded homes and businesses and rising waters trapping vehicles.
An LFB spokesman said: “Crews are being mobilised to incidents as quickly as possible but the Brigade is appealing to people to only call 999 in an emergency – where there is a risk to life or property.
“Between around 1.30am and 3am our control officers took over 300 calls – around as many as they would receive in an average day.”
In just one hour, 20.5mm of rain fell in Bexley, East London, close to half the June average, with some parts expected to see multiple showers bringing a month’s rain on Thursday morning.
There were reports of flooded streets across the capital with roads in Battersea, south-west London, Barking in East London and Lewisham under several inches of water.
Louise March tweeted that there was serious flooding in the Longbridge Road area of Barking and she was concerned over her property insurance.
She wrote: “I saw a car under water people helping to push it out if the water never seen this in the 15 years I’ve lived here.”
Mother-of-two Jodie Rose, 37, from Barking in east London, said flooding in her road following the heavy rain would hit voter turnout.
Mrs Rose, who is on maternity leave, said that the floodwater in her front and back gardens contained sewage and her children were unable to go to school as a result.
“We can’t go outside into the garden, obviously, and the children are not at school today.
Mrs Rose, a teacher, said: “My Nan is 89 years of age and she’s already said that she won’t be going out to vote.”
She said the water was knee-deep around her grandmother’s house and that the 89-year-old would not take the “risk” of going out to vote.
“The lady next door is disabled and she did say that she won’t be going out if it doesn’t subside. She said that she won’t be able to get out if it doesn’t subside a little bit.”
Mrs Rose, who has lived in Barking all her life, said she had never seen anything like it and that the flooding would make it difficult to reach the polling station.
“We’re hoping it (the water) won’t come inside my house but I feel sorry for my neighbours a few doors away – it’s definitely in theirs already.”
The District line, DLR and London Overground were all suspended or delayed because of flooding.
Gatwick Express southbound services have been suspended because of “poor weather”.
South West Trains, Southern and TFL Rail are also suffering major delays because of the storms.
Many of London’s roads were affected by localised flooding, including the North Circular which was closed at Waltham Forest.
The Environment Agency has issued four flood warnings covering rivers in Bromley, Sidcup and Basildon, and 22 flood alerts across of the South East.
Showers are expected to ease by 10am on Thursday morning before returning with similar intensity from 2pm.
The Met Office issued an amber “be prepared” warning of rain for part of Kent, Sussex and Surrey effective until 6am on Thursday, while a yellow warning covering the South East is in place until 6am on Friday.
Forecaster Luke Miall said: “If you draw a line from The Wash to the Isle of Portland everything east of that is in the firing line.
“A band of showers is coming across the English Channel and moving north-eastwards, that will bring some heavy downpours and localised surface flooding. There’s going to be a bit of hail in there too, so there’s quite a lot going on.
“If you’re in the South East, you definitely need your umbrella and possibly a pair of Wellington boots.”