STORM Dennis closed roads, disrupted train services and brought widespread flooding when it howled into Dorset at the weekend.

Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, high winds and heavy rain caused problems across the county. Some 30,000 residents were left without power during the height of the storm.

The A338 Spur Road southbound was shut for around an hour between Ashley Heath and Blackwater on Saturday night after ‘multiple collisions’ and flooding.

Although no one was seriously hurt, one car overturned, reportedly after hitting the flood.

It was just one road affected by the storm as winds reached their height late on Saturday.

At the same time, the A31 was closed in both directions at Sturminster Marshall between the Roundhouse Roundabout and the Merley Roundabout after a tree came down, pulling power cables with it.

Two cars were hit by a tree outside the Vines Farm Shop.

No one was hurt in the incident, which closed the road until Sunday.

Gravel Hill in Poole, Clouds Hill in Purbeck, the A351 between Holton Heath and Wareham and the B3081 Ringwood Road in Verwood were also blocked to traffic after trees fell.

On Sunday, flooding was the main problem on the roads. Much of Fordingbridge was impassable and a DPD driver was rescued by members of the public after attempting to drive through a ford.

His van remained stranded in the ford yesterday.

Further west, the A352 was shut at Winfrith Newburgh near to the Burton Cross roundabout due to flooding.

Environment Agency officials told residents living along several rivers and near the seafront to ‘take immediate action’ to prevent flooding.

By Sunday, there were warnings for the Lower Avon at The Bridges and Stubbings Meadow in Ringwood; the Lower Avon from Ringwood to Christchurch; the Lower Frome from Dorchester to East Stoke; the Lower Frome from East Stoke to Wareham; the Lower Stour from Sturminster Marshall to Christchurch; and Upper Frome at Maiden Newton in West Dorset.

Less serious ‘flood alerts’ were issued elsewhere in the county.

Officials say they believe river levels will remain high over the coming days and urged residents to avoid using low-lying footpaths near rivers and streams.

Fire chiefs warned they won’t be recovering vehicles trapped in flood water after rescuing a number of drivers.

One motorist got trapped on a flooded stretch of Boundary Lane, St Leonards.

A statement released by the Dorset fire service yesterday reads: “We receive many calls to cars stuck in flood water. Please don’t learn the mistake the hard way by potentially writing off your car - we will come and assist you by opening the door, window, boot and escort you to dry land.

“However, we will not recover the vehicle. For additional consideration, vehicle recovery firms will only recover the vehicle when the water has subsided, for their safety.”

There were also widespread problems across the rail network.

Yesterday morning, a stretch of the tracks between Sway and Brockenhurst were completely submerged by floodwater. It affected trains which had been due to run between Waterloo and Weymouth.

A tree also fell onto the line in Winchester on Saturday night, causing problems for those trying to get home to Dorset from London.

As gusts of around 73 miles per hour were recorded along the coast on Saturday night and in the early hours of Sunday morning, thousands of people in Dorset found themselves without power.

Some 30,000 SSE customers from across the county were affected. A significant powercut - the largest the area has seen for some time - was reported at 4.40am on Sunday.

It affected 27,559 customers in West Dorset.

Thousands in Blandford and Poole were also left without power for several hours yesterday.

SSE said the wild weather had brought "challenging conditions".

The weather also caused a coastal path in Purbeck to crumble on Saturday afternoon.

Officials from Dorset Council warned walkers to stay away from the path in Swanage.

A council spokesperson said: "The coastguard has advised us that part of the coastal path near Swanage is collapsing.

"It's stating the obvious, but please keep away from the cliffs – there's a high risk of rock falls and land slips."

Pet owners were also warned to take care after a dog was swept away in West Bay, West Dorset on Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for West Bay coastguard rescue team said: "Our heartfelt thoughts are with the dogs owner."