POOLE'S Dolphin Shopping Centre was forced to close on Monday after water flooded up through the floor.

Malls were swamped, shops shut and the centre evacuated on Monday morning after a combination of high tide and torrential rain overwhelmed storm drains.

The whole centre was shut for health and safety reasons for an hour and 40 minutes after up to two inches of water coursed through the area from Evans to Boots.

"The safety of the customers is the most important thing," said Louise Smith, marketing manager, explaining the closure of the whole centre.

M&S, whose Falkland Square entrance is outside the centre, was one of the few stores to remain open.

Card shop Birthdays had to dry out the flooded shop carpet before expecting to reopen today.

  • A service to bless a Noah's Ark wall hanging had to be abandoned in Poole when the heavens opened flooding part of the youngsters' school. Pupils from Baden-Powell and St Peter's Middle School created the 11ft by 9ft work of art for St Peter's Church, where it was due to be blessed by the Bishop of Sherborne, Rt Rev Tim Thornton.

However three inches of water flooding into the school meant head teacher Geoff Pike cancelled the service, but classes carried on while the water was pumped out.

Rev Roger Bayldon said: "It's quite ironic that the hangings depict Noah's Ark."

  • Water swirled into the basement of Poole Civic Centre, causing the closure of the Civic Club and the temporary re-housing of parking administration.

The control room which operates Poole Bridge, the Lifeline emergency service and CCTV was re-located to the Bridge House and there was no disruption to essential services.

In a two-hour period the council's customer services received 114 calls from residents, the majority of which related to flooding.

Tony Parfett, technical engineer, Borough of Poole, explained the effect of tide and rain. "With the high tide the harbour is already full.

"Many places are low lying and the rain water backs up in the drains, unable to discharge into the harbour because it's already at high tide level and the discharges are under water," he said.

  • Residents in Arne Avenue, Poole, had to push vehicles caught up in flood water and various roads in Boscombe were water-logged.
  • One lady, meanwhile, rang the Daily Echo to say she had seen snow falling on the Southbourne cliff-top.