‘Dunkirk spirit’ sees Waterlooville neighbours tackle fallen tree

COMMUNITY EFFORT The tree on the car, and inset, neighbours chopping up the trunk.  Pictures: FSM Photography
COMMUNITY EFFORT The tree on the car, and inset, neighbours chopping up the trunk. Pictures: FSM Photography

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FINDING themselves trapped in their homes by a fallen tree, a group of neighbours took matters into their own hands.

Waking on Saturday morning, the residents of four houses in Billett Avenue, Waterlooville, saw that the only route out of their cul-de-sac was blocked.

COMMUNITY EFFORT Neighbours chopping up the trunk.  Picture: FSM Photography

COMMUNITY EFFORT Neighbours chopping up the trunk. Picture: FSM Photography

Strong winds had brought down a tree in the night which landed on top of a car and prevented anyone from driving further up the road.

But rather than waiting for the emergency services they ignored the driving rain and set to work cutting up the tree with a variety of garden tools.

Leading the effort was 44-year-old Phil Cribb who had planned a day at Bovington Tank Museum with his son – but ended up putting his chainsaw to good use.

‘There was no way anyone could drive out of the road,’ he said.

‘And to be honest walking under the tree would have been very dangerous as well, so we were pretty stuck.

‘But everyone got stuck in and it became a real joint effort. People were using loppers, hedge trimmers, all sorts.

‘Someone was making tea. It actually turned out be pretty good fun.’

Phil estimated it took the group of around 10 neighbours three hours to fully clear the tree.

‘It was right on top of one woman’s car, so we had to carefully cut that free first,’ he said.

‘Otherwise the weight of the whole tree would have crushed it. I can barely believe we managed to get it out at all.’

His neighbour Steve Fryer, who works as a photographer, said his neighbour’s keen gardening skills had saved the day.

‘We were gripped by a kind of Dunkirk spirit,’ he said.

‘The tree crashed onto the car parked in the drive next door to my house.

‘I’m just glad I didn’t have a wedding to go to.’

Strong winds and rain were reported across the region over the weekend.

But despite a deluge of rain falling in the area over the last month, officials at Portsmouth Water said we are not out of the woods yet.

People are still being asked to use water wisely and a hosepipe ban, while not expected, cannot be ruled out categorically.

Experts say two more weeks of continued rain is needed to prevent drought-like conditions this summer.

It comes as 103mm of rainfall has been recorded this month at Idsworth, near Rowlands Castle, where groundwater measurements are taken. This is more than double the long-term average for April of 48mm.