SHOPS in Christchurch have been picking up the pieces after flooding and damage caused by sudden torrential rainfall forced several to close.
Customers and staff were evacuated as ceiling tiles rained down in at least one store as the severe storms yesterday (Thursday) afternoon brought an end to the week-long heatwave.
All shops in the Meteor Shopping Park in Somerford Road had to shut due to the deluge, but managers were hoping to open their doors soon.
At the Aldi branch the force of the heavy rain saw it come through the roof.
A spokesperson for the German discount store chain told the A&T: “We had to close temporarily due to torrential rain entering the building.
“A large number of ceiling tiles collapsed onto the shop floor, over the tills and into aisle one.
“The store was promptly evacuated and no staff or customers were harmed.”
The spokesperson added: “It’s not yet known when the store will be able to reopen.”
News of the closures was posted on the Meteor Facebook page yesterday evening.
“Sadly, due to the downpour, the units have had some flooding and are temporarily closed,” the post said.
“Hopefully some will be back open tomorrow. We will keep you updated as we know more.”
Others businesses affected in the town included McDonald’s and Lidl further along Somerford Road.
The closure of McDonald’s was due to its guttering becoming overwhelmed by the rainwater. Firefighters also attended to deal with a smoking manhole cover.
A spokesman for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters found a manhole cover issuing with smoke. They cordoned off the area to make it safe, stood by with CO2 extinguishers and waited for the electricity board.
“No firefighting action took place as the smoke isolated itself.”
The Marks & Spencer Simply Food store in High Street is also understood to have closed yesterday, with reports of flooding inside.
Flash flooding also caused congestion in Somerford Road and around the Somerford roundabout, as well as other roads including Purewell, Mudeford Lane and Sandown Road.
Long in-bound delays were reported in Stour Road and Fairmile Road.