PORTLANDERS turned out in force to clear up an iconic beach that was strewn with rubbish following the storm.
More than 100 people helped to pick up litter from Chesil Beach on Saturday after Yvonne Barnicoat spread the word on social media.
She said: “It was unbelievable how many people helped. I didn’t expect it to take off so well.”
Tonnes of plastic, fishing line and even dead animals were among the debris that washed up during last week’s storm.
Volunteers found a dead cow and a dead dolphin, whose head has been removed.
Yvonne said: “It seems that someone has taken the head, perhaps to use the bone as a trophy. It was an awful thing to do.”
But Portlanders spoke of an ‘incredible’ sense of community with young and old alike turning out to do their bit.
Izzy Imset, of diving group Underwater Explorers, said: “It was probably one of the most touching community responses I’ve ever seen.
“I’ve been recording pollution in this area for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything as bad as this before.”
Yvonne sent the message out on Friday night after seeing the state of the beach.
She said: “I started on my own at around 8am but by the afternoon it had really escalated and there were around 100 people with bags all the way to Ferrybridge.
“I thought we would maybe get 10 people turn up, so I was staggered by the response.
“Even people who had gone out for a walk came up to me and asked what they could do to help.
“It really was an outstanding effort by everyone.”
The rubbish has been separated into plastic to be recycled and other litter, which will have to be taken to the landfill.
Yvonne added: “It is fascinating what was found and it shows how far items in the sea can travel.
“Someone found fishing pots with shellfish that are native to the seas around North America so it’s obviously travelled across the Atlantic.”
Another clean-up is being organised for next Sunday.
Anyone wishing to take part should meet at 10am at Quiddles Cafe.
Groundwater levels rise
THE Environment Agency is urging homeowners and businesses to be prepared for more flooding as groundwater levels rise and more heavy rain is forecast.
Flood Alerts remain in place for the rivers Piddle, Frome and Wey, West Dorset and Cranborne Chase and a more serious Flood Warning for the South Winterbourne Valley has also been issued.
In West Dorset groundwater levels are starting to peak but could rise steeply in response to more rainfall.
This could again lead to flooding of the A35 at Winterbourne Abbas. The A354 at Coombe Bisset could also be affected.
The Met Office has forecast heavy rain for this afternoon and overnight from tomorrow into Wednesday.
How village shop kept on trading
COMMUNITY-spirited shopkeepers have been praised for helping villagers through the worst of the flooding disaster.
Glenn and Emma Bratley made sure residents in Milborne St Andrew were kept supplied with essentials even though their village shop is cut off from the main road.
With deliveries unable to get through, Glenn waded through the water, which was up to 18 inches deep, to carry milk and other items back to the store.
The couple also helped elderly residents whose homes were struck by floodwater, delivering food straight to their door.
Emma praised the way the community ‘pulled together’ in the face of the floods.
She said: “A lot of people were working shifts to slow down traffic coming through the village.
The main route through remained open, although there was a bit of water on the road, so they were doing a great job preventing people who were waiting for buses being drenched by the spray.
“I also have huge respect for everyone who made the effort to drive around the closed road, because it is quite a way.
“There were some people who ignored the signs but most people did the right thing.”
Staff at the Post Office arranged for a pump to divert some of the water away from Milton Road and helped villagers to fill sandbags.
Resident Jo Lovett praised the way village businesses focused on helping their neighbours.
She said: “Emma is a mother herself, her own home has been affected by the flooding, and yet her and Glenn’s priority has been to help other people.
“They’ve just been amazing.”
Adrienne Rogers added: “Everyone has been out filling sandbags, helping to clear the gutters.
“There have been messages on social media sites offering children lifts to school if people can’t get their cars out, and the village pub invited us to leave our cars in their car park so we didn’t have to drive through floodwater.
“The community spirit has been incredible.”
Villagers counting the cost
VILLAGERS are counting the cost to their homes and belongings after being underwater for days.
The floodwater in Charminster has gone down but there are fears of more to come after the Environment Agency issued further warnings.
Lyn and Hugh Willis, of West Hill, are still waiting for their furniture to dry out.
With the help of their son and a police constable, they stacked their belongings on bricks to save them from the worst of the flooding.
Mr Willis, who is an assistant curate at St Mary’s Church, said an organ had also been badly damaged in the floods.
The church is still closed and services are taking place in the village hall. Charminster resident Mike Thomas said some drivers made the situation worse by driving at speed through the floodwater.
He said: “Some drivers seem to think the closure doesn’t apply to them and no doubt have great fun creating a splash.”
Raj Makwana and Jackie Saunders of the Gamekeeper pub had a shock when they returned home from holiday on Thursday to find the garden underwater.
Raj said: “We’ve been here 15 months and I’ve never seen it like this before.”