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The flashing and rough running is to to a misfire or misfires cause by arcing due to moisture on ignition components. Eventually these misfires can lead to other problems such as damage catalytic converter. Start by identifying which cylinder(s) is/are misfiring. The arching can be reproduced with a spray bottle filled with soapy water. Spray the ignition components (wires, coils, distributor cap...)and look for the vehicle to idle rough. Replace any faulty component.
The Ford Escort ZX2, the 2.0 liter is a interference engine,The valve and the piston kissed each other as they met with a broken timing belt,Just to let you know a cam position sensor does not create rough idle, it can stall the engine at a stop sign,but the solution is a valve job, and who ever put the timing belt on after the job should have done a cylinder effeciency test.
This is likely your electronic speed sensor. On my 2003 F150 it would rev quite high before finally shifting into 2nd. and my O.D light would blink also. The speed sensor is located under the vehicle about halfway back on the frame on the passenger side. The part costs about $70 and is a fairly easy repair.
It sound is if your ABS/Speed sensor is the culpret. Try this fairly inexpensive repair before you bring it in for a Diagnostic, which can run anywhere from $89.95 & up. Go to the local ford dealer in your area and ask them for the ABS Sensor in your rear axle differential. The base part number being 9E731. This part runs roughly for about $20.00+ and your own time to replace it.