DORSET residents are bracing themselves for more flooding with another deluge on the way.
With more than a quarter of February’s average monthly rainfall expected today, fears are growing for areas already hit by floods.
And gale force winds and large waves are set to batter the Dorset coastline tonight and into Saturday.
Waves up to 30ft high are set to crash on to beaches, promenades and coastal paths at high tide, which could put lives at risk if people get too close.
Residents in Chiswell on Portland are being put on flood alert and the Portland Heights Hotel is again on stand-by to act as an emergency rest centre if people there need to evacuate their homes.
Portland Beach Road and Preston Beach Road in Weymouth will be monitored in case flooding forces temporary closures tonight.
Further inland, ground water and surface water issues will again be a problem due to heavy downpours.
Simon Parker, the county council’s emergency planning officer, said: “We have rest centres on standby in case we need to evacuate people from their homes. Residents should prepare for flooding.
“Drivers need to check their routes and give themselves more time.”
West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin was due to hold an emergency meeting with Charminster residents this morning about flooding in the village.
Many villagers say a council-owned Grade II bridge, which is protected by English Heritage, impedes the River Cerne’s water flow and causes flooding.
Charminster’s St Mary the Virgin Church and two village homes were hit by flooding last month. Now fears are growing that the swollen River Cerne will burst its banks, with the Met Office issuing an amber weather warning for South West England from 6am to 2pm today.
The Rev Janet Smith of St Mary’s Church said there is ‘anxiety’ in Charminster over more flooding.
“The church is now dried out but people are still very anxious there could be flooding.
“We are concerned for the local people and for the church.”
“In good heart we hope it doesn’t flood again. We go down to look at the water level every day.”
Milborne St Andrew flood warden Steve Lord said villagers fear more flooding if something isn’t done to improve the drainage in Milton Road.
Ten homes were flooded last month and villagers had to wade through 18 inches of flood water to reach the local shop.
Mr Lord said: “We’re not afraid about what’s to come, we’re taking it as it happens.
“As a community we fully appreciate the severity of what people are going through on the Somerset Levels.
“What we cannot cope with are drains in the road that are not fit for purpose.
“Milton Road has one nine inch diameter drain and the drainage does not work.”
Dorchester weatherman John Oliver said the average rainfall for February in the area is 82mm and around 20mm is predicted today.
He added: “If we get 20mm of rain in normal circumstances that would not be any problem.
“But because everything is saturated it’s running off the ground and doesn’t absorb anywhere. It runs off into the gullies and the water level rises and rises. Any amount of rain is bad at the moment how things are.”
DONATIONS COME IN FOR FLOOD VICTIMS
GENEROUS donations have been flooding in help victims of the storms. The Dorset Echo has teamed up with local Rotary clubs to raise funds for the many people who have lost their homes and businesses in the ferocious weather.
Over the last two days, our offices in Weymouth and Dorchester have been inundated with kind-hearted donations.
One Dorchester woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has given £500 to the appeal.
She said the people of Dorset had been very generous in giving aid to the Philippines that it was time to give something back.
Meanwhile, Weymouth resident Maureen Hall brought one of the first donations into the Echo offices in Weymouth.
She said she had been watching the news reports and reading about the flooding and wanted to do her bit to help to help all those affected.
She said: “I've been watching the news – it's terrible. I'm sure every little bit counts.”
She encouraged others to get involved and help out, no matter how big or small the donation.
She added: “Donate as much as you can, however small – every little bit helps.”
Dorchester Rotarian Peter Noble said he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the response to the appeal already.
He said he doesn’t know how much has been raised so far, but he would anticipate the sum to be ‘in the thousands’.
He said he had been taking lots of calls from people wishing to donate.
We are also appealing for anyone with animal feed for the livestock made homeless in the storms in Somerset.
Bridport farmer Shaun Fox will transport any hay, straw or silage people are able to give to the affected areas on his articulated trailer.
He is able to collect donations and some help towards the cost of this is welcome.
To donate animal feed, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- CHEQUES should be made out to Rotary International, District 1200 Charity Account and sent to Flood Appeal, Dorset Echo, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 9XD.
Or cheques and donations can be dropped off at Echo offices on the Granby Industrial Estate, Weymouth; Antelope Walk, Dorchester or the Bridport News office in East Street, Bridport.
A team will assess individual cases of need and allocate funds accordingly.
BEACH CLEAN CAMPAIGNER 'OVERWHELMED' BY SUPPORT
A CAMPAIGNER says she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response after being praised by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Storm Wallace, 29, of Portland, who has been mobilising people through social media to clean Chesil Beach after the storms, received a private message from Mr Cameron and a hand-written letter from South Dorset MP Richard Drax thanking her for her efforts.
Storm was invited to a private meeting with the Prime Minster at the Cove House Inn during his visit to Portland earlier this week.
He later praised her and pub landladies Jackie Breakspear and Amanda Broughton-South as ‘the best of Britain’.
DORSET COUNTY LEADER TO APPEAL FOR FUNDING
THE LEADER of Dorset County Council has promised the authority will do all that it can to ‘tap into’ any funding made available from central government to repair flood damage.
At a full meeting of the council Spencer Flower praised the contribution of council staff and the multi-agency efforts following the battering of Dorset and much of the country.
He said: “It would be appropriate to pay tribute to the multi-agency work that has been going on across the county over the last few weeks with the difficult nature of the weather.
“It’s great credit to them that we have managed to do this right across Dorset with support from all agencies.”
Storm said: “It’s all a bit surreal but it’s great for the Portland community because it’s raised the profile of what’s going on.”