Flash flood threat to village homes

The scene at Winterbourne Abbas yesterday

Gavin Waring picks up his son Oscar from school

Oliver Letwin discusses the bridge issue with residents

Roger Moody with the mystery object

First published in News
Last updated

RESIDENTS were left fearing for their properties after a flash flood submerged the road through Winterbourne Abbas.

The flood caused travel chaos with traffic almost at a standstill along parts of the A35 either side of the village.

Contractors from Connect Road Operators working on behalf of the Highways Agency, spent hours on scene clearing gutters to allow the water to flow away.

Pupils at Winterbourne Valley First School were sent home early after water streamed into the car park in front of the school building.

Headteacher Rachel Horne said it was not an ‘ideal’ way to end the half term but parents had understood the need to close the school.

She said: “We closed on the advice of police and set the critical incident plan in place. That all went very smoothly.

“It’s something we had to do because of parental access and the safety of children leaving the school.

“But we were giving the smaller ones piggy backs through the floods so that made it a bit of fun.”

Staff at Bride Valley Motors were forced to move cars as the water flooded over the forecourt.

Salesman Jamie Voss said: “We had to move about 15 cars, the water was just rising so quickly.

“It was coming right up to the door.”

Colleague Peter Faulkner was left brushing away water and mud from the forecourt after the flood had receded.

Resident Len Allen said his garden was flooded and contractors were pumping water away to protect his home.

He said: “It’s staying on the road at the moment but if the river bursts its banks we will be in real trouble.

“I’ve known it like this only twice before and I’ve lived here for 15 years. The last time it was in 2012 and I lost everything.

“I just don’t know what’s going to happen this time.”

Tony and Sally Hancox put sandbags in place to protect their property.

Tony said: “This is the main route through Dorset so if it closes it will cause chaos.

“I think at the height of it the water was about a foot deep, but it disappeared as fast as it came.

“The contractors are doing such a good job clearing everything away and I think the residents are a lot more prepared than last time.”

Michael Deller, owner of Church View Guest House, said: “It didn’t get us this time but it is a worry.”

 

Charminster residents meet with MP Oliver Letwin over bridge flooding fears

RESIDENTS are hopeful that a positive solution can be found to alleviate flooding in Charminster after a fruitful meeting chaired by West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin.

The politician, fresh from spending the week discussing the national flooding crisis in Westminster, visited the village to hear residents concerns about the impact of a grade two listed bridge over the River Cerne on the neighbouring churchyard and surrounding properties.

The design of the listed bridge has been blamed for the flooding of the grade one listed St Mary’s Church and a number of other properties, some of which are also grade two listed, in recent weeks.

Mr Letwin responded to the concerns of residents by organising a meeting with representatives of the Environment Agency, English Heritage and Dorset County Council as well as villagers. As he arrived for the meeting the river was swollen but it had not yet burst its banks.

Representatives from the Environment Agency said they had looked at various other options to alleviate the flooding issues in the area but, especially with the evidence the recent flooding had provided, they were of the opinion that redesigning the bridge was the best solution.

Catherine Farrugia from the agency said: “I very strongly think that the best thing to do is to actually increase the conveyance of the river and the best way to do that is to rebuild the bridge with bigger arches.”

Local resident Gwen Yarker said that she had done research to show that the bridge had been substantially renovated in around 1993 and 100 years prior to that, with flooding an issue.

Mr Letwin said: “We have actually been at this for 120 years.”

• CHARLES Joly’s 93-year-old mother lives at Bridge Cottage right by the river.

He said she has not been able to live at the property for several weeks because of the threat of flooding and all her furniture has been raised off the ground.

Mr Joly said: “At the moment because it’s such a threat and she’s 93 we can’t let her live there and she’s had to move.”

 

• Readers make pledges to Echo storm aid campaign

GENEROUS readers have been pledging money to the Dorset Echo’s storm aid campaign.

Hundreds of pounds have been raised to help people who have been hit by floods.

The Dorset Echo is working with local Rotary clubs so the money goes directly to where it is needed most.

One man who bought a cheque into the Weymouth office on the Granby Industrial Estate and did not want to be named, said he was shocked at the storms at Chiswell.

He said: “I live away from the coast a bit so I’m safe, but some people are not.”

Cheques have also been flooding in by post.

Judie Sheldon, of Weymouth, said she wanted to give a donation to help the ‘poor souls’ who have been flooded out of their homes.

She added: “Thank you for taking the time and trouble to organise this collection.”

Anyone who wants to donate should make cheques payable to Rotary International, District 1200 Charity Account and sent to Flood Appeal, Dorset Echo, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth DT4 9XD.

Donations can also be dropped off at Echo offices on the Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth, Antelope Walk in Dorchester or the Bridport News office in East Street, Bridport.

 

• Wild weather forces cancellation of warship trip at Portland

SEVERE weather forced the cancellation of visits to a Royal Navy warship at Portland this weekend.

HMS Dauntless, one of the navy’s newest ships, docked in Portland Harbour yesterday and will remain in the area until tomorrow – but it was decided the ship should not host visits owing to strong winds.

 

• Bomb alert on beach

A SUSPICIOUS object which prompted the closure of Chesil Beach turned out to be an old boiler lid.

A section of beach was cordoned off for a few hours yesterday and the bomb squad called in after the object, which looked like a landmine, was discovered in the shingle.

It was uncovered after recent storms which pounded the beach.

Investigations revealed it to be a piece of metal, thought to be an old boiler lid.

The beach was cordoned off near the Chesil Beach Centre off Portland Beach Road after the alarm was raised about 11.30am.

Police officers attended the scene to ensure people didn’t go near the beach.

A Royal Navy bomb disposal team from Portsmouth were alerted.

Police later said it was a piece of metal and teams were stood down. Officers took advice from navy experts who studied a photograph of the object.

Roger Moody, a volunteer at the Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve, stumbled upon the device after being out on the beach looking for birds.

He said: “I came up on the top of the ridge and low and behold I saw this round disc shape, which looked a little bit like a landmine.

“My first port of call was to go to the coastguard. They put me on to the police and the police turned up and closed the beach.”

He added: “The shape of it is round. It looks like a landmine. It’s about 18 inches, two feet across. In the middle of it is a disc that can be removed.

“We don’t know the age of it. There are markings on it with ‘something on Tees’ but it’s so badly worn we actually can’t read the writing.”

Mr Moody was thanked by police for exercising caution and raising the alarm “They think that because it has the words ‘on-Tees’ on it that it’s from a shipbuilding area and there’s a possibly that it could have come from the wreck of a ship.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “The EOD were asked to attend and a cordon was been put in place.

“They checked the object and found that it was not a bomb but a piece of metal.”

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