Agencies Pull Together To Keep Flood Waters At Bay
11:20am 14th July 2012
(Updated 11:21am 14th July 2012)
A substantial amount of rain fell over a short period between Friday (6/7) and Sunday (8/7) covering Dorset with three times the average rainfall for July within 48-hours. This caused the groundwater level in West Dorset to rise by 12 metres.
Staff from Dorset County Council's highways team, the Environment Agency, Highways Agency and district councils responded to calls from the public and have been working in affected areas to help with the clean-up effort.
A total of 35 tonnes of sandbags were distributed by West Dorset District Council on Saturday.
The A35 through Winterbourne Abbas has been closed for most of the week due to flooding. Staff managed to direct water away from the road and, with a period of dry weather, it was able to open westbound on Thursday morning.
Further rain on Thursday night increased flooding on the road and it had to be closed again. It is currently open westbound but there is still water in the area of Nine Stones so the road will remain closed going eastbound from Winterbourne Abbas to Bridport until it is safe to reopen it. Diversions are in place.
A Groundwater Flood Alert remains in force for Dorset and the risk of flooding from the West Dorset streams and Dorset Frome remains high.
Because the ground is still saturated there is a further risk in some areas if showers become heavy.
Rivers will react quickly to any further flooding so residents should remain vigilant.
Highways staff are working to assess and fix roads and bridges, particularly in Martinstown, Burton Bradstock, Maiden Newton, Winterbourne Abbas and Beaminster.
As well as significant damage to Beaminster Tunnel, Rampisham Ford Footbridge has been swept away and there has been land slips at Lyme Regis and Shipton Gorge.
There is currently a risk from flood water being contaminated in some areas. People in affected areas are being advised, wherever possible, to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater. Anyone who needs to go into the water is advised to wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots and remember to be careful of potentially concealed hazards.
Anyone who comes into contact with floodwater should wash their hands thoroughly to get rid of any harmful bugs.
Trading standards are asking people to be wary of door-to-door salesman offering to fix problems.
Residents who need work carried out are advised to find a trading standards approved trader they can trust at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk
People are being advised to be aware of the high risk of rockfall in coastal areas while landslides have delivered thick mudflows and quicksands to the beaches in many places.
Miles Butler, director for environmental services at Dorset County Council, said:
“The floods that hit Dorset this week were extraordinary. All agencies have worked together throughout the week to help people protect their homes, to get roads open and to keep essential services running.
“We would like to thank people in affected areas for being vigilant and helping with the clean-up effort.”
Highways Agency's emergency planning manager in the south west, Robin Herringshaw, said:
“It is hoped that the flood water will continue to drain away, however more heavy rain is forecast in the next few days.
“We are working closely with all our partners to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys.
“Drivers should plan their journeys before setting out, check weather conditions, leave extra time for their journeys if travel conditions are poor, and delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.
“Rain and spray can reduce visibility and when the road is wet it can take up to twice as long to stop so it makes sense to slow down when it's raining. It is also important to remember that surface water may affect motorways and major A roads where heavy rainfall occurs."
Dave Bunt from the Environment Agency said:
“Six weeks of heavy rainfall has resulted in exceptionally high groundwater levels.
“We’ve had some massive downpours in the past week, with some areas seeing more than double the long term average. This has resulted in some property flooding from groundwater sources
“We’re expecting further heavy downpours this weekend which unfortunately means that there is a risk of further property flooding across Wessex, and from groundwater flooding in some areas of Dorset.
“We’d urge people to continue to be vigilant and to check our website for flood alerts and warnings.”