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LIVE UPDATES: Danger to life across Devon and Cornwall as number of severe flood warnings upped again

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

  • Porthleven Harbour

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Two severe flood warnings, meaning an imminent danger to life, have been issued for communities on the Somerset Levels.

The highest level of alert was issued by the Environment Agency for the A361, between East Lyng and Burrowbridge and the second for Saltmoor and North Moor.

Residents of Fordgate, North Moor and Moorland are being advised to leave their homes as the River Tone spilled into Currymoor reservoir.

The council said up to 150 properties could be affected.

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In addition, there are 21 flood warnings, urging people to take action, and 53 lower level flood alerts.

Earlier nine of the highest warnings were in place with klaxons sounding in many communities across the south coast.

There has been widespread disruption across Devon and Cornwall from flooding, scores of felled trees and damage to numerous seafront structures.

A major incident has been declared in Dawlish by police and homes had to be evacuated when part of the sea wall and railway line was washed away and a section of the road collapsed.

Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton seafronts have been closed, and the high tides have also flooded properties in Exmouth, Lympstone, Starcross and Topsham.

Fallen trees have closed a number of roads across the county including Dalton Lane in Newton Poppleford, Yettington Road near Budleigh Salterton, Whitford Road at Colyton, A379 at Blackpool Sands, Fire House Lane at Abbotskerswell, Holne Cross at Ashburton, the old A30 at Rockbeare, A375 at Sidbury, and the B3186 Collaton Cross at Newton Ferrers.

A tree is also down on the A399 at Brayford but the road is passable with care, and expect delays on the A377 at Barnstaple Cross where there has been a landslip.

Fire crews are dealing with an unsafe 'statue' on Devonport Guildhall, using their aerial ladder to make it safe.

Devon County Council say staff are working "flat out" to deal with the aftermath.

In Cornwall, there are reports of fallen trees at Poughill, near Bude, Seaton and the road between Constantine and Penryn .

The A390 at Lostwithiel is also currently closed. There are also reports of flooding in a number of areas, with problems in Polkerris and Fowey and up to 35 properties flooded in the Looe area.

Coastguard and fire and rescue crews are in attendance in these areas.

There are also reports of further damage in Penzance, with teams currently inspecting the damage to South Quay.

There are also issues reported with the pier at St Mawes. The road has been closed by the police while the situation is being assessed and members of the public are being asked to avoid the area.

Four schools are closed, Leedstown, St Hilary, Ludvan, all near Penzance, as well as St Mawes School on the Roseland.

The Environment Agency was predicting waves of between 8-10 metres likely to affect the south coast of Cornwall.

Earlier today the organisation raised the number of severe flood warnings, meaning potential danger to life, to six.

This now covers more or less the entire south Cornwall, Devon and Dorset coastline.

In the South Hams, four homes were evacuated on the seafront at Torcross this morning as the high tides smashed the fronts of properties.

Teams from South Hams District Council’s works department are currently surveying the damage.

A spokesman for South Hams District Council said: “Our teams have been down there since early this morning trying to make sure people are safe as possible in the circumstances.

“The properties were evacuated because there was danger from broken glass and further damage caused by the breaking rollers.

“We also have unconfirmed reports that there may be a breach in the sea defences and that the rebuilt road in front of Slapton Ley is threatened. We are awaiting reports back from our engineer at the scene.”

Major disruption is still ongoing at Kingsand and Cawsand, South Cornwall, where last night emergency crews had to use chainsaws to access the villages.

Around 50 people had to be evacuated from their homes last night and in the light of morning, engineers have discovered damage to the Clock Tower and the Institution building at Kingsand.

There is also a house which is in danger of collapsing into the sea.

A rest centre has now been opened at Maker with Rame Village Hall for any residents who may have to leave their homes.

The first high water mark was at Sennen near Lands End and flooding has already been reported at Newlyn.

It is thought Perranporth and St Mawes could be particularly badly affected.

High tide at Porthleven brought waves crashing voer the sea wall and four boats belonging to local fishermen are reported to have sunk under the deluge.

At Plymouth, police have closed Plymouth Hoe due to safety concerns.

Meanwhile some structures near the waterside are said to have collapsed.

Witnesses have likened the scene of destruction to a war zone.

Debris is strewn on the road and at least one business premises is said to have been destroyed by the elements.

As dawn broke, parts of the Westcountry woke up to scenes of devastation after a powerful storm ripped through the region.

Travel is widely disrupted across Devon and Cornwall in the aftermath of a battering by powerful winds and rain.

Dozens of trees are reported as having been felled in the region, making some roads impassable.

The King Harry Ferry in Cornwall will begin sailing at 10.40am.

The Torpoint Ferry is now operating with all three boats.

The Tamar Bridge has been closed to high sided vehicles and motorbikes.

The Saltash tunnel has now reopened after a closure forced by debris.


The multi agency Silver Control centre at New County Hall in Truro reopened this morning to provide a co ordinated response to the severe weather situation.

Cabinet member for communities, Geoff Brown, told the Western Morning News this morning that the damage had been widespread.

He said that travel was fraught this morning and urged people not to drive unless their journey was vital.

"It has been a hard night for the county," he said.

"There have been problems everywhere.

"In Newlyn, the sea wall has been breached again and in Penzance firefighters were called out to seafront properties.

"It was not the case that they had to deal with flooding, but that windows in some hotels had been broken by boulders thrown up by the sea."

He confirmed 100 trees were down in the county.

An estimated 7,500 homes, mainly in Bodmin and Redruth, remain without power this morning with services expected to be reconnected by midday.

He said that emergency services "had to cut their way into Kingsand using chainsaws" last night such was the level of damage to roads in the area.

The Met Office had issued a yellow weather warning up until midnight last night with winds expected to reach severe gale force.

Western Power Distribution said 15,000 homes between Taunton and Penzance had last night been affected by power outages, although many of these homes are now with power again.

More than 25 crews from CORMAC Solutions and up to 25 fire and rescue pumps, or around 150 fire fighters, dealt with a large number of calls from across Cornwall throughout yesterday evening.

Among the worst affected areas were Newlyn and Penzance, Looe, Mevagissey and Fowey and Kingsand.

Police said part of a roof had blown off a hotel in Mountwise, Newquay, while a stand at the Truro City ground had been wrecked.

A fallen tree was partially blocking the old A30 at Victoria while downed phone cable were reported on the A30 between Henver Lane and Shortlanesend Road, near Zelah.

Trees were also down on Tyringham Road, Lelant Downs, outside the Shire Inn, on the Camborne to Helston road, and on Ridge Hill, at Combe Martin in Devon.

A fallen tree was said to be entirely blocking Tregolls Road into Truro while another was blocking Newnham Road, Plympton.

Other trees have been brought down on the A390 just outside Lostwithiel, on the road between Lanhydrock and Sweetshouse, and near Downderry.

The beach shop in Oddicombe was left destroyed (see pictures above) as huge waves crashed ashore.

The video above, uploaded by fizzywack, shows huge waves and gallons of seawater flood the promenade and main road near Torre Abbey Meadows last night.

With repair and clean up work barely under way in many of the region’s seafront towns and villages, the south coast could be hit by another storm surge this morning as strong winds whip up already heaving seas.

Surf forecasters Magicseaweed, meanwhile, have predicted waves could peak at 33ft (10 metres) today on some beaches and at up to 43ft (13 metres) on Saturday.

Chris Tubbs, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said: “We have more Atlantic depressions heading our way during the rest of the week and over the weekend. Heavy rain and gales sweeping in from the west for Wednesday brings the risk of further flooding in some areas and possible travel disruption.

“There is now increased confidence that much of the southern half of Britain will see further heavy rain on Thursday evening and night, and that will be quickly followed by another storm early Saturday.”

The embattled Environment Agency has issued flood warnings for most of the south coast with high tide at about 10am today. In all, 12 flood warnings are in place, along with 35, lesser, flood alerts.

John Curtin, head of incident management at the agency, said: “Following the wettest January on record in some places we are now set to experience successive bands of heavy rain heavy rain fall lasting into the weekend.

“With further river and coastal flooding expected this week we have teams working around the clock to protect homes and communities, and over 117,000 homes have been protected over the past three days.

“Strong winds and waves could be dangerous, and we would urge people to stay away from coastal paths and promenades, and not to drive through flood water.

“In the face of this severe weather we would also remind people that they can sign up to receive free flood warnings, check their flood risk and keep up to date with the latest situation on the Environment Agency website and on social media using #floodaware.”

In December and January, the Exeter-based Met Office issued 101 weather warnings for rain and 58 for strong winds across the country.

Severe gales, up to 80mph, are forecast on some exposed coasts at lunchtime today with inland gusts of up to 60mph expected to bring down trees.

“A gradual change to more showery conditions is expected today but still with some longer spells of rain, which could bring a further 20-30mm (0.8-1.2ins) over the hills in Wales but with 10-15mm (0.4-0.6ins) being a more general figure,” the Met office said.

“The public should be aware of the risk of disruption from either the wind or rain elements in this warning.”

Yet another warning is in place from 5pm on Thursday into Friday morning with heavy and persistent rain likely to affect much of southern England. Severe gale force winds are expected to return in the early hours of Saturday.

“Computer models have moved into much better agreement now for this weather system but unfortunately the most likely outcome is not good news,” the Met Office said.

“This means that there is now increased confidence in a period of persistent rain, which may bring a fairly widespread 15-25mm (0.6-1ins) to the areas covered by the warning, possibly around 30mm (1.2ins) in some southern counties.

“This rain, falling so soon after the previous batch seems likely to exacerbate problems with flooding, especially as further heavy rain seems very likely early on Saturday.”

Cornwall Council estimates the weather has already caused £4 million worth of damage across the county while in Devon it stands at about £2 million.

Both councils said they had emergency teams on standby to react to incidents while others were actively monitoring the most vulnerable areas.

“We know that many areas of Cornwall are still clearing up after the severe weather we have experienced over the past few days but we need to ensure that local residents are getting ready for this next period of bad weather “ said Geoff Brown, the council’s cabinet member for homes and communities.

“We are asking people to follow the advice on dealing with the potential severe weather, and would remind motorists not to drive through flood water.”

At the weekend, the main road in Bude had to be closed with waves overtopping defences causing flooding.

A video uploaded to YouTube is said to show the moment waves breached sea defences in the coastal town of Bude, while surfers and kayakers were reported to have ridden the tidal surge as it pushed through the town at the weekend.

Another YouTube posting shows powerful waves breaching the sea walls at St Ives in Cornwall.

Read more from Torquay Herald Express

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  • coffeecup  |  February 05 2014, 6:47PM

    It's time to stop sending billions of aid to various countries, India for example has a flourishing space program so WHY do we send our money to them. Charity begins at home and its about time BRITISH money was spent HERE in BRITAIN

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  • TopMinstrel  |  February 05 2014, 3:09PM


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  • Kwacker10R  |  February 05 2014, 12:47PM

    I know, let's give away anothe 14 billion in foreign aid and it might be that God thinks British MP's are righteous and kind people and God will then alleviate the suffering of the peop;e in Somerset!!! IDIOTS!!

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  • welsh_exile  |  February 05 2014, 12:21PM

    I'm awful glad I live on top of a hill ... inland.

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  • coffeecup  |  February 05 2014, 12:00PM

    The people pictured at Dawlish are morons of the first order, do they not have a single brain cell. One wave could knock them down take them out to see and then others life's would be put in danger because they would need rescuing..........complete and utter lunacy!!!

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  • EasyTechy  |  February 05 2014, 10:58AM

    Tough times are nothing but an exam to prove ourselves as how best we are. All agencies concerned with the weather forecasting to rendering relief and rescue operations are undergoing a litmus test to save the aggrieved humanity. Definitely, it demands best performance, patience and collaboration.(Editor, Techvedic)

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  • issacc_hunt  |  February 05 2014, 10:28AM


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  • locallad9  |  February 05 2014, 9:51AM

    I live in Frome but used to live in Plymouth/Tavvy why oh why network rail do not re-open the Oakhampton line through Tavvy to Plymouth and beyond is just plain madness,,most of the line is still intact-this concentrating on patching up Dawlish all the time is just economical madness..Surely you guys should lobby your Mp's/network rail/councils about this.

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  • potyiam  |  February 05 2014, 9:15AM

    in the bible it says it rained for forty days and forty nights. it nevered mentioned anything about the waves.

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  • Bleach  |  February 05 2014, 8:00AM

    Would the idiot who made the brain dead comment about councils blaming rising sea levels please explain to me how not dredging some rivers is causing gale force winds with 30 foot waves? Moron.

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