Rainwater and sewage flooded homes as drains failed to cope with torrential downpours yesterday.

Properties in Farm Hill Road, Waltham Abbey, suffered damage after water levels began to rise at 5pm during thunderstorms.

Lee Emery, 45, and fiancée Danielle Fenn, 38, suffered extensive damage to their ground floor and garden.

The newly-engaged couple resorted to blocking one side of the road with their van to prevent waves caused by cars entering their house.

Mr Emery, 45, said: “People were driving too quickly along the road it was like being in a shipping lane.

“It could be hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage. We’re gutted.”

Miss Fenn, 38, added: “We didn’t know where to start with the clean up.

“Our neighbours have been fantastic.  There was a real wartime spirit and we’ve been helped by people we’ve never even spoken to.”

Maria Brandi, 84, lives next door to the couple and suffered a similar fate, with flooring and carpets ruined by sewage and water rising through floorboards in her house.

Her granddaughter Lisa Flaxton said: “It was a nightmare. The water was up to my knees when we arrived to get my nan.

“She was shocked at what had happened and is still upset now but starting to come to terms with it.

“It was not nice for her, especially at her age.”

Karen McGregor, 44, who has two children aged one and two, said she was surprised at how quickly the water level rose.

She added: “I got home just as the water was reaching the front door.

“The garden was like a lake and there were toys floating everywhere.” Business in High Brige Retail Park, Meridian Way were also flooded as was Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool in Roundhills.

Farm Hill Road was closed by police at around 8.30pm and later re-opened.

Essex county Fire and Rescue Service also attended to help pump water from properties.