Fire and rescue crews have tackled flooding throughout Essex as heavy rain fell on drought affected ground.

In the 24 hours to 7pm on Wednesday, August 17, county weather measuring stations recorded up to 64mm of rain which fell on ground affected by dry conditions.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service confirmed crews had attended around 70 incidents in one three-hour period on August 17 when the flooding hit.

Railway lines were disrupted at Harlow and Stansted Mountfitchet, and motorists faced disruption on main roads, including the M11 motorway.

At 5.30pm, a fire service spokesperson said: "Over the past three hours our control room has dealt with around 70 incidents relating to flooding as heavy rain arrived in parts of Essex.

"Areas affected included the Epping Forest district, Chelmsford, Braintree and Halstead.

"Crews and our officers have been attending multiple incidents including flooded roads, properties and businesses and rescuing people from their vehicle after driving through flood water."

In a major incident, crews attended Rous Road and Boxted Close in Buckhurst Hill, near Loughton, where 18 properties were affected by flooding.

Crews from as far away as Thaxted, Chelmsford, Basildon, Corringham near Stanford-le-Hope and Epping attended.

In Halstead, near Braintree, flooding affected shops and businesses in Bridge Street and Bluebridge Industrial Estate. A car also became stuck in high water in Colchester Road in the town, and two people were helped to safety.

Greater Anglia reported a tree had fallen on train tracks near Harlow Town, and the line was briefly shut at Stansted Mountfitchet at around 3.30pm due to a reported flood. Lines reopened at around 4.30pm.

On the M11 southbound between Stansted Airport and London, access to the A406 for Walthamstow was blocked.

The A406 beneath A104 Waterworks Corner shut due to flooding, approaching the M11 motorway.

The rainy weather follows one month of high temperatures and dry conditions in the county.

On Friday, August 12, the government's National Drought Group said the conditions were having an impact on water resources throughout the country, and moved East Anglia, Hertfordshire and north London into "drought status".

According to Dan Holley, a forecaster at East Anglian-based Weatherquest, 64mm of rain fell in 24 hours at High Beech, Epping Forest - one of the highest recordings in the region.

Writtle, near Chelmsford, received 25mm and Andrewsfield, between Dunmow and Braintree, received 16mm, but Cambridge's National Institute of Agricultural Botany recorded 0mm.

Firefighters are urging residents to minimise the risks associated with floods by clearing drains, checking weather updates and turning off electrical items in water affected areas, if it is safe to do so.

Pete Donovan, a fire station manager, said: "Don’t risk driving through a flooded road.

"It takes less water than you think for a car to float and become out of control on the water.

"Instead turn around and find another route."

After the rain, today (Thursday, August 18) is due to be drier with cloud coverage over west Essex - highs of 25C and a chance of sunshine from 4pm, according to the Met Office.

Friday is due to be sunnier with a cooler high of 23C expected.

The Met Office forecasts cloud will return in time for the weekend, with highs of 22C.