More extreme weather on way

AFTER THE DELUGE Flooding at Clanfield, at the junction of Downwood Way and London Road on New Year's Day

AFTER THE DELUGE Flooding at Clanfield, at the junction of Downwood Way and London Road on New Year's Day

Driver and passengers of the damaged car at the scene


Picture: Debz Croker

Driver hurt in crash in Cosham road

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BATTEN down the hatches and stay indoors – that’s the advice of community leaders as more extreme weather heads for the area.

Residents are being advised not to travel while the risk of coastal flooding is on amber alert.

AFTER THE DELUGE South Parade Pier on New Years Day. Picture: Keith Woodland

AFTER THE DELUGE South Parade Pier on New Years Day. Picture: Keith Woodland

In particular, residents in or near Hamble Estuary and Emsworth are being urged to stay put.

Shorelines should be avoided as problems are being caused by high winds and strong tides.

It comes after a week of torrential rainfall and storms that have caused numerous problems.

Portsmouth City Council has sealed off Clarence Esplanade down to Canoe Lake and shut its flood gates in Old Portsmouth, measures likely to stay in place all weekend.

Road contractor Colas is also on standby ready to clear trees and roads affected by flooding.

It comes after councils from across Hampshire held a conference call with key partners including the Met Office over plans that need to be put in place.

Councillor Sean Woodward, the county’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said ‘There will be gale-force winds and heavy rain, which is pretty dramatic.

‘I would urge people to only travel where necessary as flooding is expected.

‘Of particular note in this area is to stay away from the shoreline.

‘There have been some awful incidents of people being swept away and drowned, so I want to reinforce a discouragement of becoming storm tourists.

‘Batten down the hatches and stay indoors.’

Cindy Jones, manager of Portsmouth City Council’s civil contingencies unit who was part of the meeting, said: ‘The main message is, people need to follow the advice of the Environment Agency.

‘It has advised that people look out for their safety, that they shouldn’t go swimming and not walk along open coastlines.

‘It may look very exciting watching the waves, but it would be very dangerous.

‘You need to be aware that there is a high tide.

‘It’s a very dangerous place to be right on the seafront in high tide.’

Huge waves have damaged South Parade Pier’s boat deck and caused cladding to blow across the beach. Railings on the eastern side have also been bent back.

Pier co-owner Fred Nash said repairs would be made and missing planks would be replaced with iron grille panels so waves cause less of an impact.

Meanwhile, 60mph winds and high tides will continue to cause problems across the Portsmouth area over the coming days.

Though it’s meant to be calmer tomorrow, another serious bout of bad weather arrives on Sunday.

Fareham Borough Council is advising its residents to be prepared and Hampshire County Council has plans in place just days after clearing up damage done by storms.

The number of highways emergency crews have been increased with tankers and jetters dealing with waterlogged roads and blocked gullies. Extra arboriculture teams with chainsaws are also on standby in the event of trees coming down.

A Met Office spokesman said: ‘An amber warning has been given for the region due to astronomical tide levels and strong winds.

‘Saturday will offer some respite with the forecast set for light winds and the occasional shower. But the strong winds are set to return on Sunday with them reaching speeds of 50mph.’

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency warns flooding is possible.

Areas likely to be affected are coastal stretches from Fareham to Portchester, Hillhead to Gosport, Langstone to Emsworth Harbour and around Hayling Island and Portsmouth.

More than 130,000 homes were without power over Christmas and businesses throughout the region were flooded.

On Boxing Day, 14 shops in Waterlooville Precinct had no power for more than 24 hours.

Fortunately, 95 per cent of faults were dealt within 24 hours. South West Trains is hoping to have its London line back open on Monday after a landslide caused it to close.

Replacement buses have been running between Petersfield and Haslemere.

However, the emergency services have been running as usual and dealt with a higher number of calls efficiently.

CITY PUB COUNTING THE COST AFTER FLOODS HIT

PUBGOERS have vowed to save their local after it was badly damaged by heavy rain.

The Fort Cumberland Arms, in Eastney Road, Portsmouth, is closed until problems caused by adverse weather conditions have been sorted.

As reported, the pub flooded after a drain outside overflowed the night before Christmas Eve, resulting in the cellar being swamped by 6ft of water.

It took dedicated regulars Tim House and Graham Calladine five hours to clear it all out the next day.

But the cellar’s cooler is ruined, which means no beer can be served, carpets have had to be ripped up and windows and doors are leaking.

Mr House, an aircraft engine inspector for H & S Aviation Ltd, in Copnor, estimates the cost of the damage at £15,000.

‘When I came home from work I saw a barmaid stood outside the pub saying the pub is shut because it’s flooded.

‘I banged on the window and asked Dave and Tina Dolling (the landlords) if I could come in. The whole pub was soaked through and the cellar had 6ft of water in it.’

Mr House is rallying residents to come and help because a lot of clearing up still needs to be done.

‘We still need people to muck in,’ he said. ‘The pub can’t open until the coolant system is fixed. We have all been helping out.’

Mrs Dolling said: ‘I am absolutely gutted. We have put so much into the pub.’

Joyce Byrne, of Westfield Road, Eastney, said: ‘I have lived here for 17 years and I have been coming here for 16 years. This is the third time that this has happened.’

Mr House has set up a Save The Fort Cumberland Arms Facebook page and donations are being welcomed.

Chris Hunt, the freeholder of the pub, said he wants to ensure all the repairs are done properly and has arranged for the insurance company to visit and assess costs.

Meanwhile, Goodacres, in The Precinct, in Waterlooville, opened despite having no power on December 27.

Shoe shop owner Pat Chance said: ‘It was really bad. We had no electricity and it didn’t make things easy for trade.

‘It was the second time it happened to us over Christmas.’

POWER COMPANIES

THOUSANDS of homes in Portsmouth were left without power over Christmas.

But despite more bad weather forecast for today and the weekend, SSE hasn’t issued any alerts for more power cuts.

The electricity and gas company was faced with thousands of power cuts across the region with 130,000 customers losing their power on Christmas Eve.

Following the Christmas period, more than 1,800 homes were left without electricity and 300 contractors and operational staff were on site dealing with the problems.

But the company is yet to know whether similar incidents will occur following 50mph to 60mph winds today and heavy rain on Sunday.

Mark Mathieson, managing director of networks, said: ‘We use sophisticated weather monitoring systems to plan five or six days ahead so we can be ready for severe storms like this.

‘This means we were able to safely mobilise crews, materials and equipment, as well as ensure correct levels of staffing in our depots and call centres. We had also prepared for the winter by carrying out our usual investment programme, totalling £90m, including a wide range of maintenance and improvement work.

‘Preparation is paramount and at SSE, we felt very prepared. Power supplies have been restored for some days now and we need to look forward.

‘We are expecting further bad weather today and we have detailed plans and resources in place to deal with any impact on the network.’

SSE have tips on how to prepare for a power cut.

These include having a torch and batteries, switching off appliances and keeping a battery-powered radio.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

THE emergency services have not been fazed by the bad weather.

Hampshire Constabulary was not affected by the bad weather and was able to continue with its service.

Similar to the police, Solent Coastguard didn’t see an increase in incidents.

A spokesman for the coastguard said: ‘The only issues we had were boats coming away from their moorings because of the high winds or the moorings totally snapping off as the boats took them into the water.

‘When the weather is bad, we don’t get people going out onto the water for pleasure so all calls related to those disappear.’

Hampshire Fire and Rescue was the busiest service receiving 500 weather-related calls in the days leading up to Christmas but was able to deal with the high increase.

A spokesman said: ‘We have attended approximately 200 weather-related incidents including flooding, unstable structures and fallen trees.

‘Despite the exceptionally high call volume, the service was able to assist residents and businesses across the county.’

INSURANCE

CALLS to insurance giant Zurich tripled between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, and more than doubled on New Year’s Day, thanks to the weather.

The severe storms which hit the UK over the festive period left many people with damage to roofs and fences, without power and even out of their homes.

Hampshire was the worst hit, the Whiteley-based insurer said, and it had all hands on deck to man the phones as the calls came flooding in.

Mark Blanchard, Zurich UK property claims director, said: ‘The high winds and rain caused absolute devastation and we have been doing everything possible to get people back in their homes as quickly as possible.

‘Zurich’s major incident team, along with our loss adjustors, have been on the ground in affected areas across the UK helping our customers and assessing the damage.

‘The south of England – and Hampshire in particular – looks to have been one of the worst affected areas for storm and flood damage. The high winds have caused roofs to be ripped off and walls blown down.

‘We have been monitoring the weather conditions over the last few weeks in preparation and will continue to do so, particularly as reports are forecasting more severe weather for the coming weekend.

‘Those affected by storms and flooding should contact their insurer as soon as possible. We have extra people on the phones in our contact centres ready to take calls and give advice.’

Zurich has issued advice for residents living in flood-risk areas.

They should move as many possessions as possible upstairs, weight furniture that can’t be moved down, disconnect appliances connected by rigid pipes to the mains supply, and block sinks and baths with weighted plugs. Outlets for dishwashers and washing machines should be blocked and a sandbag placed in the toilet bowl.

Gas and electricity should also be shut off and remain so in the case of a flood.

TRAVEL

THERE has been widespread disruption on roads, rail and the Solent due to the storm.

Rail replacement bus services between Petersfield and Haslemere will run until Monday, after a landslide on the line, South West Trains said.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We are continuing to monitor the weather forecasts and have a number of flood sites on constant watch.

‘We have extensive preparations in place to help us deal with the impact of fallen trees and obstructions on the line.

‘This includes having specialist tree removal teams on standby at key locations along the route and running empty trains with additional staff following heavy overnight storms to check for possible fallen trees or obstructions on the line.

‘We have also made significant investment in on-site monitoring which is able to give early warnings of flood water and embankment movements to improve the safety of our operation during severe weather.

‘With further spells of stormy weather forecast for the coming days, we will do our very best to keep services running to get people from A to B safely and as quickly as possible.’

Services on Hovertravel have been severely disrupted, and more than 3,000 people rang its automated hotline in the past two weeks to find the latest information, when usually 500 to 700 calls would be made.

All tickets for affected services have been refunded.

Wightlink ran extra services throughout the storms in the run-up to Christmas, but specifically helped people on the island get home for Christmas Day after it became the last cross-Solent service to run on Christmas Eve, thanks to the goodwill of staff.

On the roads a section of the main road from Rowlands Castle to Horndean has been shut since New Year’s Day after a pine tree came crashing through a garden wall and into the road. High winds have prevented it being removed.

Traffic has been diverted along Redhill Road and rejoining Castle Road.

SPORT

DESPITE heavy rain and gale-force winds, fewer football games have been called off over Christmas than in recent years.

Teams in the area are doing well to cope with the bad weather with Pompey and Fareham Town FC not missing a fixture.

Gosport Borough FC and Havant and Waterlooville FC have only one fixture postponed which was the derby on New Year’s Day.

But Gosport Borough had a roof ripped off due to strong winds.

Boxing Day saw a series of non-league games postponed. But despite flood alerts and heavy rain, this weekend’s games are set to go ahead.

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