Clamour for sand bags in flood alert

EMERGENCY planners are preparing for devastating floods in Weston, with high tides due to hit the town next month

EMERGENCY planners are preparing for devastating floods in Weston, with high tides due to hit the town next month.Tides reaching heights of more than 13 metres are expected along the Bristol Channel between September 8 and 10.The Environment Agency has warned that if the coast is battered by more wet and windy weather, Weston and Uphill will be in the grip of mass flooding.Weston and Uphill were flooded in 1981 and 1990, causing millions of pounds of damage.North Somerset Council's emergency planners have carried out table-top exercises for a worst-case scenario of mass flooding.Flood boards will be put up in gaps in Weston's sea wall near Knightstone Island and at the entrance to the Grand Pier if weather conditions worsen.Temporary rest centres at Hutton Moor Leisure Centre, church and village halls will be set up with beds, clothing and food available for people who might be evacuated.The council has a store of sand bags to put up along the seafront, but will not provide them for homes and businesses.Hundreds of people have bought sand bags from DIY stores across the town in preparation for a flood.Martin Wensley, manager of Slocombe and Butcher, said they only had 600 bags left after people had been panic buying them this week.He said: "People have been a bit panicky about the floods and we've received dozens of calls."People from Uphill are mainly buying the sand bags as they're concerned about the floods."Rod Brenner, joint managing director of the Grand Pier said: "There's nothing much we can really do on the pier when it comes to flooding."We will be watching the entrance closely as it is below the tide line and could bare the brunt if there's a storm."A lot of Weston is below the tide line and the town has been flooded badly a couple of times."Experts from the Environment Agency and district council will issue further advice after September 4.Tim Downey, North Somerset Council's emergency manager, said: "We have closed off roads before and it's usually in the event that there's a major flood."Sea defences have been put up in Uphill by the Environment Agency since the last major floods in the eighties."A massive flood devastated Uphill in 1981, causing the Government to spend thousands of pounds in sea defences to protect the village.Many parts of the seafront were left under five feet of water during the last major tidal breach in 1990.Businesses reported millions of pounds worth of damage, visitors were moved out of hotels and raw sewage contaminated food supplies.The Tropicana bore the brunt of the storm as waves smashed a huge hole into the back of the building.John Crockford-Hawley, the council's executive member for strategic planning and transport, said: "We're not taking any special measures to protect the Tropicana."Our main concern is for the protection of existing businesses and residents, not derelict buildings.

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