A deluge of rain caused flooding in Chesterfield town centre, blocking the main entrance and causing traffic mayhem and major delays on the roads.
The A617 under Horns Bridge was filled with more than two feet of rain on Friday morning and parts of the carriageway were closed off just after 7.30am for almost eight hours.
Traffic was re-directed by police, but the main routes into and around the town centre were grid-locked.
Sgt Jim Allen said it was a nightmare scenario and added: "Horns Bridge is the single most critical pinch-point. Without this the whole town grinds to a standstill."
The flooding on the A617 was worsened by over-flowing sewerage pouring into the road, and firefighters and county council highways staff spent hours clearing the scene.
One of three permanent pumps – maintained by Derbyshire County Council – next to the River Rother at Horns Bridge had not been working prior to the flood and a second pump stopped functioning on Friday morning. A council spokesman said there were plans to replace the units.
The fire service was called at 8am, and sent engines from Chesterfield and Staveley.
Incident commander Sean Mahony said: "We started pumping some water away but quickly realised the volume of water was far greater than two engines were capable of dealing with and asked for the high volume pump from Buxton."
Fire crews requested a second high volume pump from Nottingham at midday to speed up the process.
Sgt Allen praised the efforts of the fire service. He said: "This is not within their rescue remit, but they got on with the job to free up the town."
The A617 was re-opened at 3.15pm but closed again overnight when another downpour caused further flooding.
* Chesterfield firefighters were called to flooded properties on Oakley Ave, Chesterfield, Wilson Road, Coal Aston, and Top Road, Calow to pump out water on Friday.
email@example.com That sinking feeling.....
If you were delayed – and rather fed-up – in the grid-locked town centre traffic on Friday, spare a thought for Steven Hill whose Reliant Robin was stuck in a flooded man-hole for over four hours.
The vehicle was trapped under Horns Bridge, Chesterfield, in over two feet of rain water from 7.30am on Friday. The left rear wheel had gone down an open man-hole – the cover having been blown off by intense pressure from an over-flowing sewer.
Mr Hill (43), who had been travelling through Chesterfield to Sheffield from his home in Stafford, had to be helped out of the car by police officers.
He said: "I came off the motorway at junction 29 because the weather conditions were so bad – I thought I'd be safer on the A roads. The A617 into Chesterfield was so flooded I couldn't tell where the road was.
"A man-hole cover had blown off and the wheel got trapped. It was quite scary. There was a loud bang and the car lent to one side."
As fire crews pumped water away from the road – and the scene became clearer – the Reliant Robin was towed out by a Land Rover.
The trusty 1986 vehicle lived up to its name and, after about six turns of the engine, started up. As he prepared to set off for Sheffield at 11.45am, Mr Hill said he was very relieved the electrics had not been damaged and his car – which has sentimental value – was back on the road.