THE Army was called in after hundreds of beach huts were smashed to pieces and ripped from their standings as violent weather hit the Dorset coastline.
More than 400 hundred huts in Bournemouth alone were damaged following the violent storms and high tide on Friday night with around 30 believed to be completely destroyed, including the wedding hut at Bournemouth seafront.
At Avon Beach volunteers, council staff and the Royal Wessex Yeomanry spent hours clearing the piles of debris from the 70 destroyed huts with diggers called in as well.
Laura Huxtable White, manager of Avon Beach shop, said the damage had been much worse than they feared but thanked the council and the Army for all their hard work.
Christine Duell’s beach hut, which she has rented for the last two years, was destroyed by the storm and she said her grandchildren will be upset it is gone.
“Everybody is helping each other looking through the debris.
“Carnage is the only word I can use to describe it. It’s like a bomb hit the place,” she said.
“It is hard to recognise whose belongings are whose as everything is covered in seaweed.”
Sara Kerr, 55, bought her beach hut last year for £40,000 and said she is devastated it has been ruined.
She said: “It has been a very stressful time. My husband and I are moving to America in six weeks and we were going to rent it out whilst we were gone, but now we will have so much to do to get it all sorted.”
In Bournemouth, council staff were out from first light on Saturday, assessing the situation, with many beach huts upturned, ripped from their bases and stripped of roofs.
People were asked to avoid the seafront, with both Bournemouth and Boscombe piers closed on Saturday morning.
Chris Saunders, seafront services manager, said: “It’s very distressing to see our award-winning beach and seafront in such a terrible state.
“We know how much local families love their beach huts and many will be devastated to see the damage caused.
“From Monday, we hope to begin to contact beach hut tenants whose huts have been damaged, but due to the ongoing recovery needs as well as the extensive nature of the damage, there are unfortunately a lot of people to call, this could take several days.”