HOMES were flooded and roads cut off as torrential rain caused havoc in East Lancashire yesterday.

And flood warnings were issued on five rivers across the area for today as the rain was predicted to continue to fall heavily.

The Environment Agency and the Met Office also announced that already bad conditions could worsen through the weekend.

The River Irwell was last night reported to have caused flooding in Waterfoot, Rawtenstall, Stacksteads and Bacup after reaching its highest recorded level.

The River Darwen in Darwen was also approaching bursting point.

The Ribble was categorised as being on ‘flood warning’ with the Calder and Brun officially ‘on alert’ as the waterways swelled to bursting point.

Houses in the Ribble Valley and Darwen were the worst affected, with many residents being forced to use sand bags to protect their properties.

Meanwhile, events were cancelled because of the weather, including a war re-enactment at Thompson Park and the Blue Peter Olympic Torch relay event at Towneley Park in Burnley.

But the Olympic Torch relay, which comes through East Lancashire today, was set to continue as planned, despite the wet conditions.

The Met Office said yesterday was one of the wettest June days on record, with 50mm of rain falling.

Among the worst hit were homes in Downham Road, Chatburn, which began flooding yesterday morning.

United Utilities and Lancashire County Council workmen dug up part of the pavement to get a closer look.

Tracy Simpson, 34, of Downham Road, Chatburn, said: "It's been horrendous. We have just come back from Lanzarote and have had to take time off work to try to save our house.”

Her husband Jason, 40, an engineer at Rolls Royce Barnoldswick, said: "We've had to pull up the carpet, it's ruined. Water got in under the front door and ran through to the kitchen and down into the cellar.

"Some of our furniture was also damaged. It’s been a nightmare. We have spent pretty much all of the last 24 hours bucketing the water away from the front door.

"We want to get our home back to normal as soon as possible but not until the problem is sorted.”

Motorists were also warned as two lanes of the M65 Eastbound around J7 at Rishton were blocked last night after a car skidded and lost control.

Waterlogged surfaces caused further chaos as spray and traffic caused delays.

In Ribchester, where the Ribble had swollen, worried residents feared flooding similar to last year.

Rachel Killshaw-Seal, of Ribblesdale Road, Ribchester, said: “Floodgates were fitted after the last time it flooded. We've got flood-doors too. We haven't had to get sandbags but we've got hydro bags just in case.

"There's a protector on the river that's designed to catch any debris, but it that's pushed the water right up."

Judy Freeman said: “We're all flood-proofed. We've had new doors fitted called 'Fit and Forget', and as long as they're locked they shouldn't let water in."

"Some people haven't got these but they've got boards to put in their existing doors."

In Stacksteads, staff at the Hare and Hounds pub, in Newchurch Road, were left facing their second major deluge in a fortnight, with flooding in the cellar.

Crew manager Brian Welch, from Bacup fire station, sent crews to the pub from 12pm.

He said: “The water was rising faster than we could pump it out. This is the second time we have been there in 10 days. It appears that a culvert has burst its banks, a little further along. With the rain coming down this heavy, they are fighting a losing battle.”

Further flooding was reported in Belmont Road, Belmont, and the A59 at Whalley, where the river was close to bursting its banks.

Fire crews from Hyndburn were also called to a flood in the cellar of the Age UK Shop in Union Road, Oswaldtwistle.

In Todmorden the town’s flood siren sounded to alert residents to take precautions.

The Environment Agency warned residents to remain vigilant and take precautions where possible.

Andy Brown, flood and coastal risk manager from the Environment Agency, said: “Everyone needs to remain vigilant.

We have mobilised our teams to check on flood defences, clear any river blockages and closely monitor river levels.

“Our teams will be working around the clock. We are advising the public to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwater.”