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Downpour floods Dartmouth town market

Dartmouth was finally hit by flooding on Saturday as yet more torrential rain left the town centre market under water and nearby businesses and homes were inundated.
The town had survived unscathed despite weeks of rain, huge tides and near hurricane force storms over Christmas and the New Year.
But its luck ran out last Saturday afternoon thanks to another bout of heavy rain – and what appears to be blocked drains and a South West Water pumping station failure.
On Monday, the county council sent in a works team to clean out the drain gulleys in the area of Victoria Road and Charles Street where at least one home along with the Conservative Club and the Seale Arms were worst hit.
And South West Water admitted its Mayors Avenue pumping station, which should have kicked in to pump storm water out of the town centre, had failed due to a fault.
This week some half a dozen businesses in the Old Market – including the Chronicle – were counting their lucky stars after coming within inches of being flooded.
The Conservative Club was not so lucky as more than two dozen customers found themselves trapped inside the first floor bar after the ground floor was left under up to five inches of water.
Neither was the next door Seale Arms pub where customers helped to stack furniture above the flood water while landlord Mick Chambers continued to serve behind the bar – while standing barefoot in three inches of water.
Firefighters closed Victoria Road as they pumped the floodwater from the market area into the Boatfloat.
Mr Chambers, who has run the Seale Arms for the last 14 months, was still waiting on Monday to find out from his insurers just what the extent of the damage was going to be as he was faced with sopping wet carpets and bottle cooling equipment that does not work.
‘We had about five inches of water across the whole of the building. The toilets, the bars and the kitchen were all affected,’ he said.
‘We had customers in at the time. They helped us rescue the furniture and get it off the ground. I took my shoes and socks off and carried on serving but it was bloody freezing.’
He said he had already reported blocked drains near his pub but they had not been cleared. Despite that, he said he was still ‘surprised at the speed of the flooding’.
In the Conservative Club, the ground floor including the cellar, storage areas and an office were all affected by the flood.
More than two dozen people were in the bar as the water rose outside. Most stayed inside for the two hours it took to clear the water but some rolled up their trousers to leave, wading through up to a foot of water outside the building.
Meanwhile, inside the market Becky Scott was working in her Good Ole Yarn shop in the market when she found herself trapped by the rising water.
‘I was working in the back of the shop and it was raining pretty hard,’ she said. ‘I turned around and looked at the ground outside and it didn’t look right. Then I realised that the market square was flooding.
‘Water was pouring up through the drains. It got really high really quickly. It is something I have never experienced before.’
Tracy Rowe, clerk to Dartmouth Town Council which owns the market complex, said: ‘It came close but the water did not go into any of the market properties.’
She pointed out that since the redevelopment of the market two years ago a new wall had been built along the Charles Street side of the complex – preventing water from flooding in from there.
She added: ‘I am very pleased that none of our tenants were affected by the flooding but I sympathise with those people who were.’
The South West Water pumping station at the end of Mayors Avenue car park is designed not only to pump the town’s sewage to the sewage treatment works near Old Mill Creek but it also has a flood alleviation role with pumps designed to kick in to clear storm water and pump it straight into the Dart.
But on Saturday work was being carried out on the equipment by water company contractors. A spokesman said: ‘South West Water apologises to customers affected by flooding in Charles Street, Dartmouth. A fault occurred during scheduled electrical work by a contractor at the sewage pumping station in Mayor’s Avenue which has since been rectified.’

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