Floods cause havoc - and more rain is on the way

Southsea Band Stand''Picture: Mark Graham/ilovedust
Southsea Band Stand''Picture: Mark Graham/ilovedust
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MORE rain is on its way after floods wreaked destruction across the Portsmouth area.

Up to 100mm (about 4in) is expected to fall between now and the weekend and, with downpours accompanied by strong winds, the Environment Agency is also warning people to remain vigilant as high tides are also expected.

Councillor Seán Woodward, executive member for environment at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘Further rain will swell rivers even further, and the groundwater level is now very high, with ditches full of water and water lying in fields in many areas.

‘Therefore local flooding is now expected as there is simply nowhere for the rainwater to go.

‘Our first priority is to keep the main roads clear of fallen trees and surface water as far as we can. I’d ask all residents to take extra care on the roads.’

The county council’s emergency planning team is also prepared and on standby,to support the emergency services and to assist those who need help.

For more information on flood warnings visit environment-agency.gov.uk

The warning of more rain came as severe weather returned to cause disruption and damage across the area.

Gales of up to 70mph hit the south coast, while heavy rainfall led to more flooding following on from the wettest January on record in Hampshire.

Residents of Southsea yesterday woke up to floods and damage that stretched across the seafront.

Hambledon – one of the areas affected most by the recent weather – was hit once again, with homes damaged by the rain.

Meanwhile, firefighters from Southsea Fire Station were called to the Pyramids Centre, on Clarence Esplanade, after a storm caused an electrical room in the building to flood.

The leisure centre was forced to close all of yesterday as attempts were made to restore power.

Engineers were on site to fix the problem but the facility will be closed for two weeks.

Mike Lyons, BH Live director of leisure facilities, said: ‘We are currently assessing the full impact that the closure will have on our customers and forthcoming events.

‘At this stage, the centre will remain closed for a minimum of two weeks while we establish a timescale for how long it will take before we will be able to reopen.’

There was severe flooding at nearby Canoe Lake, with the benches there sitting in several inches of water.

David Evans, seafront manager, said: ‘Colas had to pump out the gullies.

‘In accordance with our emergency planning procedures we monitored the situation at the seafront throughout the day.’

As well as Canoe Lake, the rock gardens also laid under water which was pumped out by contractor, Colas.

The attraction was still open to the public but Friends of the Rock Gardens were giving assistance.

The group have been helping out in the garden for many years but they haven’t had to face the floods like yesterday.

Julia Pilkington said: ‘It was with great sadness that we discovered the garden submerged with sea water after the horrendous storm of the night.

‘So the team spent the morning helping to secure the area for the safety of the public.’

However, not all attractions were able to stay open.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard had to be closed because of high winds which ripped several roof tiles off some of the buildings.

It was expected to be back open today.

Lincoln Clarke, chief executive, said: ‘Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and our attractions unfortunately had to close yesterday due to the exceptionally high winds and severe weather conditions.

‘This was not a decision we’ve taken lightly.’

Roads also had to be closed as three fallen trees in Tangier Road, Copnor, blocked the way.

Colas spent the afternoon taking down other potentially hazardous trees and branches.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We faced a number of problems in Portsmouth with flooding and high winds.

‘The council has been despatching the appropriate teams to deal with the issues as they were made aware.

‘We dealt with the problems that could cause danger or harm and we were monitoring places that had caused problems in the past.’

Travel services were also disrupted, with the Hovertravel service between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, as well as the Hayling Ferry, suspended.

Meanwhile, weather problems continued in the village of Hambledon.

Different agencies worked to clear the water and keep houses from flooding.

Cars were stopped from driving through the village and residents were told to park away from their homes.

Debbie Clark, 56, who runs Lotts General Stores in Hambledon, said: ‘We have had a lot of rain and heavy winds, so it’s not helping.

‘It’s up and down – one minute the water rises and then it goes down again.

‘We are pretty restricted as there’s only one road in. It’s affecting us as we have quite a lot to do with the business.’

In Gosport, a flood warning was put out by the Environment Agency yesterday afternoon and Kingfisher Caravan Park, in Browndown Road, faced flooding after problems with blocked drains.

Stokes Bay Road was also closed throughout the day.

A nature reserve was closed off in Fareham for the afternoon.

Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve had to close the east side due to strong winds.

A flood warning was also issued for the coastal areas between Fareham and Portchester with water pooling at the bottom of Wallington Shore Road, Wallington.

A stretch of Southsea seafront was closed to pedestrians after parts of a boat deck were scattered along the coast.

The deck, which was attached to South Parade Pier, broke off after being battered by bad weather.

Pieces of wood were seen scattered along the seafront between the pier, going up the Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, in Clarence Esplanade, yesterday.

As a result, Portsmouth City Council closed off the section.

It was due to reopen today.

Jane Tume, transport and highways manager at the council, said: ‘An area of the beach and footpath was cordoned off for safety reasons because of wind damage and debris, which the tide has washed up.

‘We are monitoring the situation and will start the clean-up operation when the high winds have subsided and it’s safe to do so.’

Seaweed, shells and other bits of sea debris were also blown across the pavement and roads along the seafront.

Leon Reis, chairman of the South Parade Trust, which aims to save the pier through a community buy-out, said time is precious in order to achieve that.

He said: ‘As far as I know, the boat deck remains have been strewn along the coast.

‘I believe Colas will be collecting the wood and storing it for us, as it is very expensive.

‘It’s tragic, really, but not inevitable. Even without the storm, the pier is damaged.

‘The weather is supposed to get worse over the weekend.

‘This shows us just how important it is that we move quickly if we want to save the pier.

‘Bad weather or not, the pier is not in a good condition.

‘But forecasts of more stormy and windy weather isn’t good for the structure.’