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Risk of flooding remains a threat for West Dorset
12:00pm Wednesday 28th November 2012 in Bridport
WEST Dorset held its breath as torrential rain and high winds brought more chaos to the county at the weekend.
While Devon, Somerset and north and East Dorset bore the brunt of the terrible weather, country lanes in many areas were under water and drivers were stranded as the depth of flood water caught many unawares.
This week the Environment Agency is warning that groundwater levels in Dorset have risen sharply following the heavy rainfall and ask people to continue to be alert for more flood warnings.
Groundwater continues to rise even when rain stops falling, as water percolating through the ground meets the water table.
In Whitchurch Canonicorum a modern flood warning system failed to activate as Gassons Lane turned into a lake last week, leaving an unsuspecting couple stuck in their camper van and having to be rescued by a fire crew from Charmouth and the Weymouth-based technical rescue team.
Warning lights at either end of Gassons Lane should be illuminated if the River Char rises above a certain level.
“The alarm did not go off when it should have done,” admitted an Environment Agency spokesman.
“At some points the road is lower than the bridge and the river where our sensor equipment is sited.
“We have now lowered the threshold by 10 centimetres in the hope that the alarms be triggered sooner.”
Fire crews from Bridport and Beaminster also helped occupants of a half-submerged car to safety from a lane at Thorncombe and drivers had to take lengthy detours to negotiate waterlogged lanes between Bridport and Beaminster.
The driver of a lorry and trailer had a lucky escape when high winds toppled the trailer on to its side on the exposed high ground at Whiteway Cross on the A35 near Litton Cheney on Thursday.
The eastbound carriageway was closed and the road closed from Bridport for a time while recovery was arranged.
The driver was uninjured.
West Bay Road in Bridport was closed for a large part of the day on Sunday after the heavy rain washed debris and pieces of the road into a public sewer which blocked and overflowed.
The council delivered sandbags, which were placed at driveway entrances at people’s homes near Wanderwell.
Police put up road closure signs and taped off access to the road, but motorists ignored the signs to the frustration of householders and police.
A Wessex Water spokeswoman said: “Following days of significant rainfall, debris washed into the public sewer in West Bay Road.
“We arranged for the sewer to be cleared and the council provided sandbags to prevent flooding.”
Emergency teams from the Environment Agency have been working round the clock to maintain defences, monitor river levels, clear blockages from watercourses and pump out flood water from towns and villages.
Richard Cresswell, Environment Agency director for the south west, said: “We would urge people to continue to be prepared for flooding, sign up for Environment Agency flood warnings, keep up to date with the latest situation, and stay away from dangerous flood water.”