FLOODING misery has hit Ringwood, Fordingbridge and Verwood as rising waters put people’s homes at risk.
Drivers faced delays as roads flooded and the police and fire service have been busy rescuing people from the waters and providing sandbags for besieged householders.
Ringwood Fire Service pumped 280,000 litres of water from the Elm Tree pub in Hightown on Sunday night while staff and customers helped clear water from the bar.
Owner Alan Douglas said: “Thank you everyone for helping us to save the Elm Tree from serious flooding. However, we do have a lot of damage to the pub.
“The fire service removed 280,000 litres of water from outside to stop more flooding.
“I am sitting at home on edge praying for the rain to stop.”
The water level of the River Avon at Ringwood reached 1.26m on Monday. The highest level previously recorded was 1.20m in 2007.
A flood warning has been placed on the river by the Environment Agency after more predictions of heavy rain, with a ‘threat to life’ warning at Iford Bridge.
The tributaries of the river between Ring-wood and Christchurch are most at risk. Already, the rising water level has caused flooding in several gardens at Stubbings Meadow, while in many places the Avon has burst its banks.
Flooding has made Eastfield Lane, Kingsbury’s Lane and Hightown Road in Ringwood virtually impassable.
Hightown Road resident Georgina Long said she had not seen such high levels of water on neighbouring roads.
“Eastfield Lane is impossible to pass. The water level is so high. It is difficult for large vehicles and vans to negotiate; smaller cars have no chance.”
On Monday morning The A338 was closed due to flooding at Fordingbridge, with drivers diverted through the town.
It was reopened later that day, but drivers faced delays and people trying to use the back roads and villages reported dif ficulties whatever route they tried to take. There were further reports of flooding at Horton Heath, and Verwood residents reported flooding at Potterne with several homes being pumped out.
Police are urging drivers not to go through the forest’s numerous fords, and to avoid travelling if possible when flooding is bad.