More heavy rain and strong winds are expected to lash the country at the end of the week

After a respite day for many parts of Britain, the wet weather will return overnight from Thursday into Friday as a slow-moving area of low pressure brings heavy rain, thundery showers and strong winds.

Many parts of the country will be affected by rain as the system moves north, with winds of up to 55mph in parts of the South East and East Anglia, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

The Environment Agency said: "The concern is now for Friday and Saturday when the forecast is for heavy rain."

Although there have been heavy showers in parts of the South West, Wales and the North West, parts of the country which were on flood alert after days of heavy rain were given breathing room today with clear skies in the South East and London.

The Environment Agency had urged people in Devon, Cornwall, west Somerset, North Wales and parts of the Midlands to remain prepared for the possibility of floods as the Met Office issued a weather warning for heavy rain.

At one point on Wednesday afternoon the EA had five flood warnings in place for rivers where flooding was expected, and 21 less serious flood alerts.

But this was reduced to two flood warnings in parts of the South East which have been hit by heavy downpours over the last few days, the Great Ouse at Olney, near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, and the Aldingbourne Rife at Bersted, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex.

There were also 17 flood alerts, mainly in East Anglia and the South East.

Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and council officers said they evacuated people from flooded homes in the village of Elmer, near Bognor Regis, after reports of flooding of up to 6ft in some homes. They used inflatable boats to reach 250 vulnerable homes, knocking on doors and searching properties to make sure people were safe and received the help they needed, a Sussex Police spokeswoman said.