GIGANTIC waves and 70mph winds battered the Dorset coast in the worst storm for more than 30 years.

Flood sirens sounded again on Portland for the second time in a month as huge waves crashed over Chesil Beach, sending water pouring into Chiswell.

There were also dramatic scenes on Weymouth seafront as the waves came crashing towards the promenade.

The South and West Dorset coast took a pounding as it experienced nature’s onslaught.

Residents at Chiswell sandbagged their houses, cleared drains and some evacuated their properties as seawater came over the top of the beach.

Chiswell, Weymouth seafront and West Bay and Lyme Regis harbours had all been issued with severe flood warnings for high tide yesterday morning.

Preston Beach Road and Portland Beach Road were closed. Preston Beach Road was closed again last night and Portland Beach Road was monitored.

Landlady at The Little Ship on Portland Lynda Davis, who has lived in the area for 33 years, said: “This is the worst I have known it.”

Sandra West added: “Water was pouring on to the beach road through the culverts.”

Owner of Taste cafe on Chesil Beach Todd Moffat said at the highest point the water was 15ft from the front door.

On the A35, a lorry was blown over in fierce winds near Askerswell and police advised drivers of high-sided vehicles to stay away from the area. The driver suffered minor injuries.

Police received reports of 50 fallen trees across the county by 10.30am including one which crashed down on to the Rodwell Trail in Weymouth.

The borough council was forced to close some paths around the Nothe and both cemeteries in Weymouth due to the risk of fallen trees.

Weymouth Sea Life Park and Tower and Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens were shut.

Stay safe on the coast

RESIDENTS are being urged to stay away from cliffs as high waves smash against the Jurassic Coast.
A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said people had been putting their lives at risk throughout yesterday morning.

The spokesman added: “When people put themselves at risk they then put others at risk.
“Please stay away and do not put yourself or others in danger.

“The cliffs are beginning to crumble.”

Coastguards were also involved in a search for a missing dog.

Lulworth Coastguard Rescue team were sent to help members of the public in the search for a missing dog near Durdle Door on Tuesday night.

Despite the search, the white german shepherd dog called Blondie was not found.

  • MORE heavy rain and high winds are expected to hit Dorset this week.

Forecasters have issued an amber rain warning until Saturday with residents told to expect further flooding.

The Met Office said: “Further spells of heavy and persistent rain will affect southern parts of England from Thursday afternoon until Friday morning, and again from late Friday evening until early Saturday followed by frequent heavy showers.

“Gales will accompany the rain during Saturday with severe gales likely for exposed coasts.”
The public should be prepared for disruption due to flooding. The warning is in place between 3pm today and 11pm on Saturday.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “This means flooding is expected – be prepared.”
Call Floodline 0845 988 1188.


Sounds of an emergency

SIRENS wailed across Chiswell as waves crashed over the top of Chesil Beach.

Huge waves and high winds battered Chesil Cove yesterday leaving many areas flooded.

Environment Agency workers urged residents to keep safe and away from the seafront.

Portland Beach Road was closed for hours around high tide due to fears of waves and pebbles crashing over the top.
Many residents were left stranded on either side.
Sirens went off several times warning residents of the imminent risk of flooding.

Coastal engineer Neil Watson, of the Environment Agency, inset below, said the sirens were to warn residents to ‘activate their personal safety plans.’

Waves rose and water began to sweep over the sea wall and into the neighbouring streets.
Parked cars became partly submerged, with some swept out of their bays.

Claire Roy, owner of Elite salon in Chiswell, shut up shop for the safety and wellbeing of staff.
She said: “We’re leaving. It’s scary.”

But many residents gathered to watch the storms, including Antje Rook who was walking her dogs.
Spectators Lisa and Ian Clark, from Bakers Ground, said they had never seen anything like it before.
Lisa said: “We’ve watched a bench get ripped from its stand.”

Members of the public started helping others where they could, lifting sandbags to houses where doorways had been blocked off.

Melinda Brown, from Chiswell, attempted to unblock a number of the drains to reduce the likelihood of water reaching her door.

Ms Brown, originally from Mississippi, said she’d experienced Hurricane Katrina but unlike Katrina, she said winds on Portland were constant.


Battening down the hatches

BUSINESSES on Weymouth Esplanade battened down the hatches as waves and heavy rain battered the seafront.

Hoteliers told of their shock at the size of the waves with one hotelier describing the weather as the worst he’s seen in 30 years.

David and Maureen Bennett, joint owners of the Penn House Hotel, said the waves on The Esplanade were frightening to watch.

Mr Bennett added: “We’ve been here for 30 years and this is the worst we’ve ever seen the waves on The Esplanade.

“We heard from the Met Office that the weather isn’t likely to improve over the weekend either.

“Most of the beach is covered now and pebbles and shingle are finding their way to the other side of the road.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before, but luckily we are five steps above ground level so the water hasn’t reached us.”

Peter Townsend, owner of Aunty Vi’s Tea and Cakes stall on the seafront, said parts of his decking have eroded due to the recent severe weather.

He battled heavy rain and strong winds yesterday morning to try and preserve his business.
Peter added: “The waves have been terrible here and I’m just doing all I can to help preserve what I have.

“Luckily I’ve had sandbags down which have helped somewhat, but my decking has really suffered.”

Anthony Bennett, company director of Weymouth Pier Amusements, said waves crashed into a water pipe on the Pier Bandstand and damaged the water supply to the pier.

He added: “It hasn’t completely stopped our supply but has affected our water pressure.
“Wessex Water came out immediately to assess and fix the damage and we had sandbags given to us from the Environment Agency which also helped a lot.”