Dorset Clears Up After The Floods

Heavy downpours led to flash flooding along the South Coast on Thursday August the 18th, with one area getting as much rain as it would usually do in a whole month.

Shops, homeowners and businesses in the town have been clearing up mud and water damaged goods from their properties.

Bournemouth Borough Council's also told us they had teams working all night to clear debris from roads and pavements.

Meanwhile, RNLI red flags have been positioned at Southbourne, Fishermans Walk, Manor Steps, Boscombe, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Durley Chine and Alum Chine beaches. Lifeguards are advising people to stay out of the water due to
the potential of contamination from yesterday's flooding.

Portland in Dorset was the worst hit, with 2.3in (57.8mm) of rain falling over a nine-hour period compared with a monthly average of 2.5in (64.3mm) for the county, according to the Met Office.

Bournemouth was also badly affected, with vehicles including buses breaking down and roads closed due to the sudden downpours.

Drains lifted up, damaging road surfaces and water almost rose up to the bonnets of cars.

Parts of the town centre were closed, including Exeter Road where a wall collapsed and ruptured a gas main, causing homes and businesses to be evacuated. It was later repaired.

Houses, businesses and shops were also flooded around the town with Shakeaway, Jane Norman and Primark among the stores affected.

The stream which flows through the Lower Gardens burst its banks, leaving the gardens under feet of water.

Stephen Davenport, a senior meteorologist with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said:

''There was flooding in parts of Dorset caused by torrential thundery rain, especially in the south where nearly 20mm (0.8in) of rain fell in just one hour between 10am and 11am.

''Over 50mm (2in) accumulated in places in six hours between 6am and midday.

''Swanage reported 19.4mm (0.8in) between 10am and 11am, and the Isle of Portland, just south of Weymouth, 17.4mm (0.7in).''

Here's the latest on the clear up from Bournemouth Borough Council:

"Bournemouth is back in business after Council staff and partners from Wessex Water, Mouchel and other agencies all pulled together to get the town clean and safe once again.

Unprecedented levels of rain fell on 18th August 2011, causing widespread flash flooding which left all of the town’s Upper, Central and Lower Gardens underwater, numerous drain and manhole covers blown, and roads and pavements flooded and damaged.

Pier Approach, Boscombe Gardens and Lower, Central and Upper Gardens are now open to the public, with some marshalling and restrictions to ensure public safety. 

Due to the extensive water overflow, people are being asked to keep off the grass and not paddle in the Bourne Stream, in the Lower, Central and Upper Gardens until Monday (22nd August).  Temporary signs have been erected to let people know.

RNLI ‘red flags’ indicate that it is currently inadvisable to bathe.  These are expected to be displayed until the weekend, as a routine precautionary measure, as bathing water quality may be affected by the recent heavy rainfall. 

Around 100m of beach just west of Boscombe Pier is not currently accessible to the general public.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum reopened to the public this morning, but the Crematorium, after suspending cremations yesterday, is now completely closed due to electrical faults.  It is expected to reopen on Monday (22nd August).

Roads have been cleared of the worst debris, but teams of staff are continuing with sweeping and highway clearance duties today and throughout the weekend to remove fallen leaves, pine needles and other waste brought about by the flash floods.

Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Chris Rochester paid tribute to staff, saying: “I should like to take the opportunity to pass on my heartfelt thanks to everyone for pulling together yesterday in exceptional circumstances to help the hundreds of people affected by the flash floods. 

“In particular, my thanks go to all the Bournemouth Borough Council staff, as well as Wessex Water and our partner Mouchel, and the local Police and the Fire Service. 

"All worked tirelessly in horrendous conditions to make the roads, pathways, Gardens and seafront safe and usable.

“It was not the start to the Air Festival that we envisaged, but I am sure that the remaining three days of displays and activities will prove it is worth the wait!”

Council leader Cllr Peter Charon, sent a message of thanks to staff this morning, saying:

“On behalf of all of the Councillors can I thank everyone who has been involved in dealing with the unprecedented weather conditions that we experienced.

"We know how many calls came in through the Ask Bournemouth system in such a short space of time – and we know just how hard everyone has been working ever since the heavens opened, doing everything possible to clean up and prepare our Town for the hundreds of thousands of visitors that we expect for the Air Festival over the next three days. 

"Crews have been out late into the night and again since very early this morning and we are immensely grateful to you all.”

Flooding facts and figures

Debris collected

Over 150 bags of debris collected across the borough with 50 from the town centre and Lower Gardens alone.


Over 100 vehicles are thought to be involved in the clean up.  This includes six mechanical sweepers working all day until 11pm, with one continuing working through to 4am, numerous Park & Housing vehicles and those of contractors & Wessex Water


Over 30 manhole covers blown off due to the force of the water flow, including in Gervis Place, Wimborne Road, Priory Road, Christchurch Road and East Avenue, as well as Boscombe Gardens and Spencer Gardens.


More than 20 sections of road were closed on Thursday

Phone calls

Around 1300 calls yesterday regarding the floods.  That was almost double the calls (45% more) that the teams would usually receive

Staff involved

Approximately 200 members of staff were involved in the clear up operation (working with Wessex Water, the Environment Agency and external support contractors)

Approx. 2,400 man-hours spent on the clear-up

People worked up until 11.30pm on Thursday night and started at 5.00am the next day. A multi-department approach was taken with staff prioritising the clear-up.

Emergency signs

100 signs have been placed in the Lower, Central and Upper Gardens asking people to avoid sitting on the grass, following the floods.  These are due to be removed on Monday.

See the flood photos

The Bournemouth Air Festival:

All flights and entertainment were cancelled yesterday because of the weather, but what a difference a day makes!

The sun's shining today, and a full programme of events is happening. The Lower Gardens in Bournemouth have been reopened after the floods.

More from the official Air Festival website

This is the flash flooding caught on camera by YouTube user rbooneyful

BHBeat - Here the River Bourne has burst its banks in the Central Gardens, opposite the Town Hall

MrRevolution84 watches Richmond Hall turn into a waterfall