UK Hit By Flash Floods

Intense Thunderstorms and Flash flooding caused chaos in Bournemouth as torrential rain drenched parts of Dorset and Hampshire, closing roads and leading to the evacuation of shops and offices.

Water rose to the level of car bonnets in some areas, according to Dorset police, as around 60mm (2.4in) of rain fell in a few hours –more than the average 56mm for the whole of August.

Firefighters attended more than 150 emergency calls over two hours from 10.30am as storms, accompanied by thunder and lightning, hit on the first day of the Bournemouth air festival.

Dorset fire brigade said more than 20 appliances and 100 firefighters were used. Wading teams rescued a man from his car in Charminster, Bournemouth.

“It’s localised flooding affecting supermarkets, shops, hotels, even a private hospital,” said a spokeswoman, “but also domestic premises and roads.”

Central Bournemouth was one of the worst hit areas and Central Gardens and Boscombe Gardens were under water. There were also reports of flooding in Poole and Christchurch.

Debbie Reeves, who co-owns four ice-cream kiosks in Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens, said her staff had to abandon their posts. “The water came downhill through the town centre square and the narrow entrance to the gardens made a channel for it,” she said. “The water just kept coming and coming, it was like a waterfall.

“The water got to waist-high in two of the kiosks and about one feet deep in the other two. We have lost the fridges, microwaves, electrical
goods and a lot of stock which was ruined in the flooding.”

Dozens of shop workers had to be evacuated when a wall collapsed in the town centre, triggering a gas leak.

A Dorset police spokesman said a number of roads had been closed and many vehicles broke down.

One of the worst affected roads was the A338 Wessex Way, which was temporarily closed with flood water reported between 60cm and 90cm. “The rainwater was very deep, almost reaching the bonnets of some of the vehicles,” said the spokesman.

A woman caller told police a slip road was “splitting” and that “water was coming out of the road like a fountain”. In Westbourne, the fire brigade were called to bale out two basements.

The Nuffield Health Bournemouth hospital was turning away patients as water leaked through a ceiling.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Bournemouth Air Festival decided to cancel some of the evening’s events, which were to include fireworks, musical performances from an Abba tribute act and the Royal Marines Band.

Residents and holidaymakers were warned not to go out unless absolutely necessary.”

Flooding is extremely dangerous. Please call us if you believe yourself to be in danger in your property or in your car. And don’t go out if you don’t have to,” said the fire brigade spokeswoman.

In neighbouring Hampshire, roads were closed in Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton and the New Forest.

In the New Forest, the A338 at Fordingbridge was flooded. A motorcyclist and passenger were treated by ambulance crews in Burley after coming off the vehicle on Forest Road and their motorcycle ended up submerged.

In the Winchester area, there were reports of widespread flooding. The services at Sutton Scotney on the A34 were also affected.