Dorset Council says it has taken the ‘difficult’ decision to advise all schools to close and it has suspended many services for Friday as 100mph winds of Storm Eunice are predicted to hit the county.
The Met Office has categorised the impact of the wind in the storm as the severe amber warning which means there could be a danger to life and structural damage to property.
The council says it has taken the decision to put threat to life above some continuation of services and warns that there will be disruption to residents.
All schools have been advised to close to staff and students, though many in the Gillingham area were already planning to close to pupils for an INSET day on Friday.
Services which have been suspended include, and are not limited to –
- Council transport, including school and social care
- Closure of day centres
- Closure of all household recycling centres (HRCs, or “the tip”)
- Suspension of bin collections. Do not put your bins out for collection on Friday 18 February. The council will attempt to collect rubbish on Saturday 19 February. Food waste will be emptied on your next collection day (Friday 25 February). The council hopes to collect missed recycling on Saturday 26 February. Garden and commercial waste customers will be contacted separately.
- Libraries and council owned buildings will be closed to the public
- Roads could be closed at short notice
- Durlston Country Park is closed and scheduled performances cancelled
Any further service disruption due to the storm, which is scheduled to hit the Dorset Council area from 3am until 9am, will be posted at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/emergencies-severe-weather/disrupted-services.
Councillor Graham Carr Jones, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Community Safety and Emergency Planning, said: ‘The decision to suspend services has not been taken lightly and the priority is to prevent injury and loss of life.
“The council has taken heed of the warnings from the Met Office, and due to their predictions of extremely strong wind, we have taken the precautionary decisions to suspend services and advise all schools close and children stay at home.
‘We have plans in place for scenarios such as this and we feel well prepared. Highways and arboricultural teams will be on stand-by throughout the weekend to deal with highways issues, fallen trees and debris on the roads.”
‘Residents need to take precautions to make sure they safe and well until the storm passes.’
Residents are being advised to only travel if absolutely necessary and take measures to stay safe and should not go to watch the sea in coastal or clifftop locations. There are specific flood warnings from the Environment Agency issued for Lyme Regis, West Bay, Chiswell and Ferrybridge, Preston Beach Road and Swanage Bay in terms of tidal surge flooding.
Emergency procedures are being put in place to keep homeless and rough sleepers safe, to make welfare checks to the vulnerable and for home care providers.
The Met office said disruption from ‘extremely strong’ winds in Storm Eunice is scheduled between 3am and 9pm on Friday 18 February which may cause significant disruption including flying debris which could result in danger to life, falling branches and trees, damage to buildings and roofs, power lines brought down, road closures, disruption and cancellations to train, bus, ferry and planes in addition to beach material thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and properties.
Residents can report a highways issue online at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/travel/travel-dorset/live-travel-updates.
To speak to customer services call 01305 221000.