MOTORISTS are being advised of potential disruption to their journeys amid localised surface water flooding in County Durham.

Following last week’s severe weather, rising temperatures have caused the snow to melt. This combined with rain has led to some flooding in parts of the county.

The road between Ushaw Moor and New Brancepeth, near Durham City, was closed by floodwaters. The water rose so quickly at Deerness Bridge, between the two villages, at 4am yesterday that a security guard at a construction site, where a new bridge is being built, was caught out.

Workmen arrived at 8am to find him stranded in his cabin surrounded by deep water. They used a mechanical digger to break through mud and earth to help give the flood water an escape route. At that time the water was 4ft deep over the road.

Resident Peter Job, of Durham, who has lived in New Brancepeth for at least 40 years, said: “It’s the worst flooding I’ve ever known here. They have had to replace the bridge because of previous floodwater. This is as bad as I have seen it ever.”

Durham County Council has put diversions in place while the bridge is closed and alternative arrangements have also been made for local bus services and school services. Other road closures were Broadgate Ford and the C127 at Tanfield.

John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said: “The combination of the melting snow and the overnight rain has led to surface water on many of our roads this morning. Our gully cleaning vehicles have been deployed to clear excess water where possible and our highway inspectors have put out flooding signs to warn drivers. Our advice is always for motorists to drive carefully to the conditions and only drive through standing water slowly where it is safe to do so.

“We will endeavour to get the closed roads open as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so.”

The council is not expecting a significant risk of flooding to properties but can provide sandbags where there is an imminent risk of water getting inside a premises.

Three fire crews were in Lanchester, yesterday morning at the bottom of Maiden Law Bank, helping to pump out deep standing water one side of the carriageway.

St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form Centre in Lanchester was closed because of the flooding.

Headteacher Neville Harrison said: “I got a phone call at about 6am to say the site was flooded. A stream of water was coming down Maiden Law Bank and was gathering at the bottom of the bank.

“It was obvious that we could not open. Our wonderful site team have been doing a clearing up operation.” The school hopes to be open today.

Jane Davis, headteacher at Lanchester EP (Controlled) Primary School, said at least 95 per cent of her 400 pupils had made it into school.

She said: “We sent out a message on social media this morning to let parents know that school would start at 10am because parents bringing pupils in, and staff, had been held up because of the flooding on the bypass. Some people were held up for about 90 minutes.

“We were determined to open today, but have also had to deal with no gas in the school kitchen, so we are currently in the middle of making a picnic lunch for the pupils. I think there was some concerns that we were panic buying when we went to the shops for bread for sandwiches.”

There were also reports of flooding at Sedgefield and Coundon.

Station Road at Ushaw Moor was closed both ways due to flooding around B6302 Broom Lane.

The road out of Shadforth, Durham, was flooded due to the stream bursting its banks.

Cleveland Police received reports of flooding in Saltburn.

Durham Police urged motorists to take care while driving and allow extra time for journeys as melting snow and persistent rain are leading to routes becoming waterlogged and flooded.

The Met Office warned that heavy rainfall in the River Gaunless area, added to melting snow, caused the river to rise at Oakley Cross Beck.