THE Dorset Echo is joining forces with local Rotary clubs to raise money for people affected by the terrible storms sweeping the area.

Our readers have a fabulous record of digging deep when disaster strikes anywhere in the world.

Most recently you helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for victims of the typhoon that wreaked havoc in the Philippines.

But now we are dealing with a disaster much closer to home.

Communities in Dorset and neighbouring counties have felt the full force of the seemingly never-ending storms that have brought misery for weeks.

Farms have been devastated and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet.

And there is more misery on the way as the Met Office forecasts heavy rain, ice and strong winds into next week.

Now Rotary in District 1200, including the clubs in Portland, Weymouth, Weymouth Harbour-side, Melcombe Regis, Dorch-ester, Dorchester Casterbridge, Lyme Regis, Bridport and Brit Valley, is spearheading the appeal to help those in need.

District governor Brian Kirkup said: “We are now faced with horrendous flooding affecting villages and the farming community across Dorset and the Somerset Levels, and indeed along parts of our coastline.”

“Rotarians are offering accommodation for those displaced, sourcing dry animal feed, which is a major issue now, recovering cars, helping with the shopping and many other little tasks to try to make life just a bit easier for those affected. The emergency services are now in control of all movement in many areas. Rotary are of course ready to respond if called on as the situation changes.

“We do, however, anticipate a wave of clean-up operations needed when the waters finally recede. So, our residents will need all the help they can get to put their lives back together. As you would expect, Rotary plans to be there for them. It will not be a pleasant task but we intend to be there to help out.”

Dorset Echo editor Toby Granville said: “Our readers have always given generously when we have asked them to help.

“You have helped communities across the globe but now it is our neighbours who need our help.

“We know times are tough for everyone but even the smallest amount can help to make a difference to those who face losing everything.”

Peter Noble of Dorchester Rotary said: “It’s important we help our own people from time to time and this is one such occasion.

“The public has a long history of helping the Rotary give aid in disasters such as the Philippines or Haiti.

“The appeal has gone worldwide and we have had offers of help from America and all sorts of places.

“It’s a pretty serious disaster. And now we are not just talking about Dorset and Somerset, but the Thames Valley as well.

“The public wants to help and this is an opportunity to do that.

“This is happening to the people you meet every day. If you go on holiday, you probably drive past the Somerset levels.”

He said that although flood victims will have insurance, certain things, such as clothing, will not be covered.

Mr Noble added: “The Echo is offering a tremendous support.

“As the local paper its help is very important and this is a very clear example of how it supports the local population.

“Organisations like the Echo do their best to help the community and we are very grateful. There are no overheads – the money is only going to the victims.”

A volunteer who’s been working hard in the clean-up operation on Portland has called the appeal ‘brilliant’.

Storm Wallace said she knew of people on the island who would need help. She said the whole community has rallied together but with more misery set to descend over the next few weeks it won’t be easy.