HUGE thunderstorms brought the south Essex heatwave shuddering to a halt and wiped out power to thousands of homes.

Train lines were also affected and roads flooded after heavy showers hit the area in the early hours.

The worst of the weather affected Wickford, where 3,000 properties were left without power–some for as long as three hours.

The power cut was at about 5am, and all homes had their electricity restored by just after 8am.

A spokeswoman for UK Power Networks said: “UK Power Networks has restored power to customers in parts of Wickford following a storm.

“Initially about 3,000 customers were affected, but the vast majority of supplies were restored by 6.43am.

“The final 238 customers were reconnected to the electricity network at 8.10am.”

Malcolm Buckley, Tory councillor for Wickford Castledon, was among the fortunate residents who only experienced a five-minute power cut.

He said: “I don’t think it’s too unreasonable for the electricity company to take a couple of hours to reinstall the service, as once they get a team out to the scene to do the work you would expect that to takeafew hours.”

Lightning interfered with train signals near Upminster and Rainham overnight, causing 15-minute delays on c2c services in both directions until about 8am. There were further delays when a passenger was taken ill at Upminster at 8.30am, with all services suspended for 15 minutes while an ambulance was called to the scene.

However, South Essex escaped the major problems seen near Stansted, with signal problems at Sawbridgeworth lasting all day.

Meanwhile, flooding caused delays for motorists, with the Carpenter’s Arms roundabout in Rayleigh down to one lane due to the conditions.

The roundabout, which is the junction of the A1245 and A129, was flooded and only just passable from around 9.30am to 11.30am.

Ambulance crews are warning people to drive carefully on wet roads as south Essex will continue to suffer heavy rainfall over the coming days.