Park residents rescued as caravans damaged by storm

Freshwater Beach Holiday Park
Residents in static caravans were rescued from the rising flood-water

Residents at a coastal holiday park have been rescued as Storm Ciarán damaged caravans and flooded the site with seawater.

Police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services were called earlier to Freshwater Beach Holiday Park at Burton Bradstock, Dorset.

Resident Rachel Shaw said firefighters knocked on caravan doors to alert people to the fast-rising flood-water.

She said residents, some wearing pyjamas, had gathered at the site's reception area with essential belongings.

Ms Shaw, who is staying at the park in a camper-van, said: "When we woke up this morning the whole site was like a lake.

"Fire crews were assessing the area and knocking door-to-door on each caravan to get people out as the water was rising so quickly.

"The whole field that's normally full of tents was under water and smoke coming out of the electric hook-ups as they became submerged."

Freshwater Beach Holiday Park
Emergency services were called as the site was submerged

Julie Lewins, who has lived on the site for three years, said: "Half-past six this morning I looked out of the caravan window and saw the biggest surge coming over the sea wall that I've seen since we've been here."

She said she then walked her dog and had to run from a surge which came up to her thighs.

Ms Lewins continued: "As we got back at high tide at eight o'clock, the five or six caravans in the corner... had all gone into each other and got badly damaged. One's nearly in half.

"Luckily it wasn't half-term from last week when they would have been full."

HM Coastguard said it was alerted at about 09:20 GMT and sent a helicopter, a rescue team and an all-weather lifeboat.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "We are dealing with a significant flooding incident... caused by the sea breaching defences in the area.

"All those affected have now been taken to a place of safety."

On its Facebook page, the holiday park said it was closed until further notice "due to extreme damage".

Pictures on social media appeared to show badly damaged caravans at the park close to the shore.

In a statement, the site said: "Freshwater Beach Holiday Park has suffered property damage from flooding and tidal surge but all our guests, owners and staff are thankfully safe."

It said the park had shut for the season but would reopen its swimming pool complex when possible.

The park's Ready 2 Rock music festival, scheduled to run from Friday until Sunday, has been cancelled.

Dorset Council said it had closed the nearby coast path from West Bay to Burton Bradstock and warned people to avoid visiting beaches in the area.

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