THE WEST Dorset coast took a pounding in a fierce storm which battered beach huts, uprooted trees and put residents on evacuation alert.
There were fears some residents in West Bay would need to be evacuated, but the tide turned just in time.
West Bay and Lyme harbours were among the areas in Dorset issued with severe flood warnings for high tide yesterday morning.
Further along the coast in Lyme Regis beach huts were battered, chalets ruined and an ice cream parlour was flooded by pebbles.
Seven of the town council-owned beach huts were smashed by the powerful waves.
Bridport Police Inspector Mike Darby, pictured above, said: “Our officers have been busy around West Bay, Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
“Clearly it has been impacting every coastal area.
“We had to close the Esplanade in West Bay on Wednesday morning.
“There were lots of people there taking photographs but we needed to keep people back from the danger areas.
“We had fears we were going to have to evacuate people from West Bay in the morning but luckily when it was looking like it was dangerously close, the tide turned.”
The road into West Bay was closed by a huge fallen tree after it crashed across the road at the Haddon House Hotel overnight.
Bridport town surveyor Daryl Chambers said the council team had been responding to as many requests for assistance as they could.
He said: “We have given out all our sandbags and more are on the way. We have left some in the harbourmaster’s yard in case they are needed.
“The biggest job has been dealing with damaged or fallen trees and we were called to half a dozen or more.”
West Bay harbourmaster James Radcliffe said: “I don’t think it was expected to be this severe.
“The Environment Agency didn’t issue a severe warning until 8pm the night before, which for us is quite late.
“To my knowledge we have not had a severe weather warning down here before.
“We have not had too much damage, some to people’s property walls and some paving slabs have been washed away. It’s more debris than anything. The benches got washed off the Esplanade.
“The majority of people have been behaving themselves, but again there are always one or two that decide they are above it all, unfortunately.”
Coastguards have urged people to stay out of the seas in the stormy conditions.
It comes after a man capsised in his kayak off Lyme Regis last weekend and had to swim half a mile back to shore.
Matthew O’Rourke, from Burton Bradstock, was checked over by the medical teams the RNLI returned to sea to retrieve his surf-ski, which is a sea-kayak.
Graham Turner, station officer for Lyme Regis Coastguards, said: “Luckily, he was a professional guy and a very good swimmer.
“We are worried about copycat people going into the sea and trying to do what he did because a lot of people were watching him, but he has previously swam the Channel so he is a very strong swimmer and thankfully he was safe.
“We are urging people to not go into the water at all.”