Residents spared the worst after call to evacuate park homes

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 Iford Bridge Home Park
The River Stour lapping at the edge of Iford Bridge Home Park on Monday 17th February

RESIDENTS were spared serious flooding after they were advised to evacuate voluntarily from a mobile home park in Christchurch following a warning yesterday (Monday).

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As water from the River Stour got closer to Iford Bridge Home Park an evacuation centre was set up at Iford Baptist Church by BCP Council as the Environment Agency said there could be flooding.

Overnight accommodation in local hotels was arranged for 13 people, the council said, although most chose to remain in their homes at the site – which escaped going underwater to any significant extent.

A BCP Council spokesperson said this morning: “The flood warning for Iford Bridge is no longer in force and the evacuation centre is now closed due to the improving situation.

“No further flooding is currently expected, although we will continue to monitor the area. Residents have been advised that it is now safe to return back to their homes.”

There are 79 properties on the site, and security was arranged by the council overnight. No one stayed at the Baptist church.

The flood warning followed heavy wind rain from Storm Dennis at the weekend which swamped roads around the New Forest and Christchurch.

Residents at the home park were advised to make their family, pets and property safe and leave the park shortly before 6pm last night, as power was switched off to the site from about 7pm as a safety precaution.

Resident Michael Purdie told how council workers came round banging on everyone’s doors yesterday afternoon urging them to evacuate.

He said: “They told us there were concerns about the water levels and the park could flood.

“I live in the middle so didn’t really feel I had to leave. I did move my car though, I parked it at the Bailey Bridge pub as the landlord there was very nicely offering us the chance to park there all night.

“Most people stayed put, or came back after a while when they realised the water had stopped rising. There were security guards patrolling around all night to make sure people were okay.”

Mr Purdie has lived at the park for two years but says he was told by other residents who have lived there longer that the level of the water was nearly as high as when the park was very badly flooded over 10 years ago.

Another resident, Paula Rowe, said she decided to stay put because she has a dog and two cats. She said: “I’ve lived here four years and this is the highest I have ever seen it.

“I wasn’t too worried about it flooding as they have built all the homes up, so that they would not get damaged if that happens. We heard the water level was high because there was a sudden surge after water got backed up at Throop.

“It seems to be receding this morning so I think the worse is over.”

The home park was named in a flood warning issued yesterday afternoon for a wider area including the lower Stour at Jumpers Common.

River levels had been expected to continue to rise into the night, but this morning the impact is not thought to have been as serious as forecast.

At about 5.30pm last night the Environment Agency said: “We don’t think that homes will flood, but water is expected on site. An alternative pedestrian access gate is located at the back of the site near the car park.”

A warning for “immediate action” was also issued last night at about 7.45pm for the Beaulieu Garden Park Home Site, which is also on the River Stour, south of Iford.

The Environment Agency said “The river level is likely to remain high until tomorrow morning, Tuesday 18th February. Further rainfall is forecast from Tuesday afternoon.

“Our incident response staff are in contact with community flood wardens.”

For more information go to flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings.

This article was updated with fresh updates on 18th February 2020.

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