FLOODING after heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday caused serious disruption across Somerset and Dorset.
Emergency crews were called in to rescue stranded motorists and schools were closed as floodwater from overloaded rivers, streams and drains left roads impassible. Numerous homes were also flooded as water poured off of already saturated ground.
Firefighters from Sherborne and Sturminster Newton were called to Boys Hill, near Holnest, when a van became stranded in four feet of floodwater at 8.30pm on Tuesday night. Wading teams used an inflatable boat to rescue the man who was trapped inside.
At around 6.30am on Wednesday morning, crews from Maiden Newton and Dorchester were called to a car stuck in floodwater at Muckleford off the A37. The team pushed the car from the water to free its male occupant.
Yeovil and Sherborne crews were called to Netherton Lane off the A37 two hours later when a woman and three children became stuck in floods. Crews pushed the car to safety and ensured they had support for vehicle recovery.
At 10am on Wednesday, crews from Sturminster Newton were called to a van that had broken down in two feet of floodwater at Bagber near Sturminster Newton. Wading teams pushed the van and its driver to safety.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service also responded to flood-related calls in Thorncombe, near Beaminster, and at Whitechurch Canonicorum.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) had received more than 300 flood-related calls and attended 51 flooding incidents due to flooding by 11am on Wednesday. Crews had made 18 rescues from vehicles caught in floodwater, one involving two people who were attempting to rescue livestock.
A spokesman for DSFRS urged motorists not to attempt to drive through floodwater.
“The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast. Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded,” he said.
“Vehicles can float away in just two feet of water - if your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately if safe to do so and seek higher ground. Do not attempt to walk through flooded areas. Even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet and there may be hidden dangers such as open drains, damaged road surfaces, submerged debris or deep channels; these can cause serious injuries or even death.”
Several Somerset schools were closed as teachers and pupils struggled to get through the floods. The county council was forced to cancel its full council meeting on Wednesday and Somerset Waste Partnership announced that it was struggling to keep up with kerbside refuse collections.
The A357 through Templecombe was closed on Wednesday morning as torrents of rainwater cascaded from the railway bridge and on to the highway for the second time in three weeks.
A video of floodwater pouring from the bridge was posted on Youtube and received hundreds of views.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that the road was closed at around 9am following a call from Network Rail.
The sight of floodwater gushing from the bridge has raised concerns about the impact of erosion but a spokesman for Network Rail said the organisation had no immediate plans to repair the bridge or improve drainage.
“The bridge was closed because of the amount of water running on to the road below,” he said.
“There doesn’t appear to be an issue with the bridge other than the volume of water. There is nothing actually wrong with it and there are no holes that shouldn’t be there.”
The spokesman also said that rail services starting and terminating at Gillingham had been cancelled due to landslips and flooding on the line.