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Drivers criticised as more rain threatens homes
FLOOD water and heavy rain are set to cause more disruption across Dorset and the New Forest with warnings of further downpours until Christmas Eve.
And fire chiefs have criticised motorists for ignoring flood water warnings on the roads and driving into trouble.
An amber weather warning was issued by the Met Office for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with potential for up to 70mm of rain to fall before Christmas.
Among the problem areas on Saturday afternoon was a stretch of Salisbury Road at Burton, Christchurch, from Burton Hall Place to Preston Lane.
The road was closed due to volume of water. A number of properties are threatened and the fire service is on the scene.
Parish Council chairman, Judy Jamieson who has been out offering practical support, said: "It's a bit of a nightmare. We are doing our best to stop homes being flooded out."
The Environment Agency has also issued flood warnings for a number of places.
Farms at Sturminster Marshall, Wimborne, Mill Street in Corfe Mullen, Ringwood Road, Throop Road in Bournemouth, Barrack Road and Willow Way in Christchurch have all been issued with warnings.
Bickerley, Ringwood and the B3347 from Christchurch to Sopley Road are also in danger of flooding.
Tributaries between Wimborne and Christchurch may also flood this weekend.
Mill Street in Corfe Mullen has also flooded, but it is currently thought that no homes are affected.
Motorists aren't the only ones affected though - due to flooding between Sway and Hinton Admiral, trains have to run at reduced speed on all lines.
This morning, there was a large quantity of standing water on many locals roads with warnings from all the emergency services for drivers to take care.
The Environment Agency reminded motorists that just two feet of water can float a car.
Fire crews rescued three drivers from their vehicles in Lyndhurst Road in Christchurch. They used an inflateable boat.
Three hours later crews returned to rescue a stranded taxi driver. Another motorist was stuck for around five hours.
A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said several incidents had occurred on the roads after drivers ignored closure signs and drove straight into the water.
"Motorists need to remember these closures are in place for their own safety," said the spokesman.
Station manager at Christchurch, Nick Rickett, said fire crews were out on unlit roads checking ditches to ensure that no drivers had fallen in after abandoning their cars.
The service said it was "extemely busy" on Saturday mornning and reissued its warning not to drive into standing water and to obey all road closed signs.
Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations said: “Unfortunately, some drivers will be asking Santa for a new car after driving down flooded roads.
“It’s just not worth the risk, so stay out of flood water, as it can hide all manner of hazards and you seriously risk wrecking your engine or worse.”
This morning there was flooding on the roads around Corfe Castle and an imminent flooding forecast on the rivers Frome, Char and Wey. The worst area for standing water on the roads is reported to be the Purbeck.
Fund-raising 'Santa Special' steam trains are still running through the Isle of Purbeck today, despite flooding blocking the main A351 Wareham to Swanage road at Corfe Castle. The road was reopened just after 10am.
Special early morning trains were laid on to transport Swanage Railway 'Santa Special' volunteers and staff from the Norden Park & Ride car park – off the main A351 road from Wareham and just north of Corfe Castle – to their places of duty at Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross and Swanage stations.
At 8.44am, Swanage Railway volunteers reported the main A351 road at Corfe Castle was flooded and impassable between the B3351 Studland road railway viaduct and the centre of village by the old mill.
Currently there are delays of about 30 minutes on trains between Southampton and Bournemouth because of flooding at Sway.
Water on the roads around Winkton, Burton and Sopley was described as severe.
Transport was brought to a halt on Friday with trains unable to operate due to floodwater on the tracks with roads across Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch also impassable.
Fire fighters rescued a number of people from their vehicles throughout the day as well as sandbagging flooded homes in Bockhampton, near Christchurch and moving people’s valuables to upper levels of their properties.
In Poole, Blandford Road in Hamworthy was closed with firefighters sent to clear the water. Wessex Water had been digging up the road to replace a collapsed sewer.
Jason Muller, director of Lush at Stepnell Reach, just off Blandford Road, said: “We’ve sandbagged the unit but it’s lapping around the building.
“I’ve had to send 50 of the staff to our other site at Nuffield. It’s the busiest time of year so isn’t great timing.”
Hamworthy resident Paul Ticehurst said: “This is bound to have an effect on the road works. It’s already been going on for nine weeks so any delays are going to really frustrate people.”
County councillor for Upton, Fred Drane, added: “There was about two foot of water still there at lunchtime.
“This is unacceptable. This work should have been completed by now. There was just nowhere for the water to run to other than along the road.
“Most drivers were still turning around, but a few were taking their chances and driving through.
“Wessex Water should have tankers up there to take the water away as Dorset County Council does if there is a massive flood.”
A spokesperson for Wessex Water said: “Unfortunately while the ground is heavily saturated the road is unable to be reinstated.”
Engineers are expected to re-open the road at 1pm today, on schedule.
The road to Lytchett from the Bakers Arms roundabout in Poole was also flooded along with the A341 at Queen Anne Drive in Merley and Burley Road at Winkton, Christchurch.
Traffic was also at a standstill on the Dorset Way during morning rush hour while Matchams Lane in Christchurch was closed during the morning.
Drivers were warned to take care on the A35 due to surface water near the Cat and Fiddle pub at Hinton near Christchurch.
Parts of the New Forest were also badly hit with Hampshire Fire and Rescue activating their emergency control centre to co-ordinate assistance.
Eastfield Lane and Woodford Close in Ringwood were badly flooded with a father and daughter rescued from their Porsche by a PCSO after it became submerged in a ford near Sway.
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