THE rising tide threatened to flood a number of businesses in Swanage during what traders described as some of the worst weather in 30 years.
Volunteers, many of them from the town’s business community, rallied together and used brooms and brushes to sweep flood water away from their premises into nearby drains.
And by the end of a frantic couple of hours work, they’d managed to turn back the sea and stave off potentially devastating water damage.
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Swanage’s East Bar looked like it was going to take the brunt of the seawater, which locals said swept further up the High Street on Tuesday night compared to anytime in the past three decades
East Bar and Bar One manager, Michael Bird, said: “We knew high tide was coming, around 11.45pm, and by 10pm the sea started coming up the road.
“We rustled together a load of sandbags as quickly as possible, got them all in place, built a sandbag wall in front of the main bar door and the patio entrances through both venues and the front door of Bar One next door.
“We were using brooms, trying to sweep the water down the drains. The seaweed was the worst. We were constantly picking it out of the drains.
“By midnight, there were about 20 of us all with brooms. It was a great community effort.”
The next day, traffic officials closed parts of Shore Road and many businesses had taken the precaution of piling sandbags in front of doorways.
A digger was also drafted in to help shore up High Street defences, while scores of sightseers gathered around the seafront and Mowlem Theatre to photograph and film huge waves smashing against the sea wall.
On Tuesday night’s drama, Adrian Wright, of Swanage’s High Street Cafe, told the Daily Echo: “The water didn’t actually come into the cafe, because there was a whole bunch of us last night with brushes to push the sea water back. I don’t think we would have flooded, but East Bar certainly would have if we hadn’t all been there.
“Some large rocks came up last night, the sea just kicks them up.”
Martin Higgs, of Swanage Angling Centre, High Street, said: “The drains out there just cannot cope. I’ve been here three years and I’ve never seen seawater quite as far down the road as it was on Tuesday night.”
See more coverage in our weather section bournemouthecho.co.uk/dorsetweather