FLOODS: Worst weather in West Dorset for 30 years triggers 35 calls for help in just 48 hours (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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FLOODS: Worst weather in West Dorset for 30 years triggers 35 calls for help in just 48 hours
RAGING rivers, lakes of floodwater and the constant sound of screaming sirens signalled the worst flooding in Bridport and nearby villages for more than 30 years.
Flood warnings for all the rivers – the Lim, Char, Simene, Asker, Brit, Mangerton and Bride – proved justified on Saturday as water levels rose to unprecedented levels after torrential rain fell onto already swollen watercourses and sodden ground.
The emergency services were kept at full stretch throughout the day and into the night, battling to deal with scores of calls for help.
In Bridport, lower South Street was under several inches of water and householders and businesses on lower lying areas of the town watched anxiously as levels reached their doorsteps. Calls for sandbags went out and communities pulled together to try to prevent as much damage as possible, although many peoples saw belongings ruined and face big repair bills.
The East Road roundabout and the neighbouring petrol station were submerged and holiday traffic heading westwards on the A35 had a slow and perilous journey, inching through deep water.
West Allington, Magdalen Lane, North Mills, St Swithins Road, and North Allington were also badly affected, while people living alongside the rivers kept an anxious eye on the flood gauges as Saturday morning’s high tide passed, while the Asker Meadows flood plain became a lake.
Bridport mayor David Rickard paid tribute to emergency services and town council staff for the way they dealt with the flooding.
“The fire brigade were everywhere and did a magnificent job and so did our town council staff, who were working late into the evening handing out sandbags and helping where they could.”
Coun Rickard said although emergency planning was the remit of the county and district councils, the weekend’s events showed the town should have its own strategy in place.
“We should arrange initial talks about this and perhaps form a working group and talk to the other agencies involved,” he added.
Bridport town clerk Bob Gillis said council staff were at full stretch handling calls from anxious members of the public and dealing with calls for sandbags to try to stop floodwater entering homes and businesses.
“We were ready at Mountfield to take calls and take sandbags out to where they were needed.
“We were working alongside West Dorset District Council and I would like to thank our staff who did all they could.
“I believe Bridport has not seen scenes like this since the later 1970s. We have contingency plans in place and if people had been forced to leave their homes we would have found somewhere for them to go, but happily that was not needed.”
A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said they had dealt with more than 200 emergencies while police handled more than 100 incidents.
The A35 was closed at the Texaco roundabout in Bridport throughout the weekend and into Monday as the road was shut at Winterbourne Abbas.
The coast road was re-opened at Burton Bradstock on Monday morning after several feet of water receded from the carriageway and fields.
Many other roads were closed by police or impassable over the weekend and into the start of the week.
Emergency services have warned people not to take any risks as some areas were still flooded.
Chief Superintendent David Griffith of Dorset Police said: “We advise motorists to exercise caution while driving and to show concern for other road users and nearby properties. Consideration should be given to the depth of the water.
“Do not take risks driving through flood waters.”