11:00am Friday 21st December 2012
By Samantha Harman
DORSET was submerged as heavy rain caused flooding and travel chaos across the county.
A number of motorists were rescued by fire crews after getting stranded in floodwater, a caravan was washed away in Moreton, homes were hit and a garden centre was flooded.
Firefighters tried desperately to control rising water levels at Radipole Lake in Weymouth.
There was traffic mayhem as road closures and wet weather meant motorists faced long delays.
The heavy rain came just a week after the area was hit by a major deluge.
Some still decided to face the floods yesterday and drive through deep water, including on the West Stafford bypass, despite repeated warnings from emergency services.
The A352 between Weymouth and Wareham was flooded in several places with water running off fields and swamping the road around one mile east of Winfrith. The Hanging Gardens Nursery was submerged and owner Frances Cook said it would take ‘months’ to deal with the aftermath.
She said the nursery had flooded several times this year but this was the worst she has seen it.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service urged motorists to take care and not to travel through flooded areas after it assisted several trapped cars yesterday.
A spokesman said: “Please take extreme care whilst driving through parts of flooding and do not attempt to pass through any floodwater as you could be risking your own life as well as others.”
A flood alert was put on the River Wey from Upwey to Weymouth, including Nottington and to Radipole Lake and Preston Brook.
The Lower Frome River was also put on alert from East Stoke to Wareham.
Dorset Police has issued safety advice to drivers following the heavy rain.
A spokesman said: “Members of the public are warned to take extra care when driving and to ensure they are visible to other drivers by keeping their headlights on even in daylight.”
There was agony for rail passengers as well as motorists as South West Trains was forced to suspend services due to flooding on the lines. Trains were unable to operate between Brockenhurst and Bournemouth and a ‘shuttle’ service was set up between Bournemouth and Weymouth.
A spokeswoman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “We apologise to our customers for the disruption to their services which is due to flooding caused by heavy rain overnight.”
The AA’s flood rescue team attended more than 220 vehicle breakdowns in the south west as drivers attempted to drive through floodwater. For details about protecting your home, visit dorsetfory ou.com/flooding
*The manager of the Gurkha Restaurant at the swannery has asked to point out that it remains open for business and the restaurant has not been affected by flooding.
Caravan Floating Down River
FIREFIGHTERS were called to assist several vehicles that became trapped in floods across Dorset.
Crews from Dorchester and Weymouth helped a woman stuck in a car at West Stafford before Weymouth firefighters also joined crews from Bere Regis and Wareham to reports of a caravan floating down a river.
Earlier in the morning, firefighters were called to Bindon Lane, Wool, Holt Road in Three Legged Cross and Magna Road, Canford Magna.
They also assisted two people trapped in a car on the A37 at Grimstone.
The service was also called to help two vehicles stuck in Winkton and an elderly woman trapped inside one of them.
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