Storm brings gales of up to 70mph along the coast

Gales are predicted
Gales are predicted
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GALE-force winds have started to batter the south coast as people brace themselves for another stormy day.

Winds of 55mph have been recorded along the coast and the winds are expected to increase in strength through the afternoon before dying down at about 8pm tonight.

A wind speed of 45mph was recorded at the Langstone Harbour Board office at the mouth of the harbour at about 12.30pm today.

Louise MacCallum, who works at the office, said: ‘The windows are shaking and the roof has been rattling up and down.

‘It’s very windy down here.

‘In the last half hour the wind has picked up quite dramatically and the front of rain has come through.

‘There are some huge waves and they are crashing into the Mulberry harbour. We have had some large planks of wood and bits of trees flowing in with the tide.’

A further three inches of rain is expected over the next few days and will fall on to heavily-saturated ground, leading to an increase in flood risk for villages such as Hambledon and Finchdean.

Villagers in Hambledon are praying for no power cuts as around 1,000 pumps are working round-the-clock to stop properties flooding.

The groundwater reading at the borehole at Broadhalfpenny Down in Hambledon is currently about 75m.

The Environment Agency is expecting that the levels will stay between 75m and 80m for the next week.

A statement said: ‘Groundwater levels in Hambledon village will also remain high and are likely to rise in response to individual rainfall events. Any particularly heavy rainfall, will lead to direct runoff which will impact the village significantly.’

Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said: ‘There will be another deep depression affecting us today and another on Friday, accompanied by very strong winds, which could of course bring power cuts.

‘We are as ready as we can be, however.

‘In the village levels in cellars have risen a bit more and the volume of water is now higher than ever and moving very fast in places.

‘Road surfaces are disintegrating under this powerful flow of water and springs erupting underneath. Recovery and repairs are going to be a long expensive business - when it comes. And today we hit the 40 days and 40 nights mark - probably longer than anywhere else in UK.’

The main concern for villagers is whether the pumps and sand bags will stand up to the test of more storms.

Hambledon Parish Council has hired more pumps and villagers are being urged to get a spare pump in case of an emergency.

Mr Higham said: ‘A feature of yesterday was failing pumps – and it almost led to flooding in two properties.

‘Pumps have been running for six weeks now and are the lifeline to keeping properties dry.

‘Sandbags are now wearing out – the hessian cover does not last long. We have over 20,000 deployed now and there are huge demands elsewhere in the south of England.’

He said the village is trying to preserve the sand bags they have and people are advised not to walk on the walls of sand bags.

A high tide of 4.2m is expected at around 10pm tonight along coastal areas.