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NEW PIX: Storm damage at Dawlish revealed

By HE_Hedge  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

  • The damaged railway line at Dawlish. Photo Antony Christie

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NEW weather warnings were issued for South Devon on Thursday as the relentless storms continued to take their toll.

A Flood Warning is in force for the South Devon Coast from Start Point to Dawlish Warren with risks to communities between Start Point and Dawlish Warren, including Beesands, Torcross, Slapton, Torbay and Dawlish at the next high tide at Teignmouth at 10.45am.

An amber warning for rain was issued for South West England including South Devon on Thursday morning. It will remain in place until 11pm on Saturday.

An amber warning for wind for the region was also issued valid to 11.45pm on Saturday.

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Dawlish is still coming to terms with the devastation to the railway line and homes on the seafront which had to be evacuated on Tuesday night.

Some 20 homes in Dawlish were evacuated as part of the train station was destroyed. The lines were left hanging in mid air as 80 metres of track were severely damaged as the sea wall gave way beneath it.

On Thursday Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris was at Dawlish to witness the destruction for herself.

Winds gusting to over 91mph were recorded at Berry Head, Brixham.

The beach shop in Oddicombe was left destroyed as huge waves crashed ashore.


An Environment Agency spokesman said: "The peak of the spring tides has passed. However tides will remain high and we are expecting more wave action due to sustained high winds. Members of the public should stay away from areas exposed to large waves. Some coastal defences in Devon have been damaged and beach levels are low. Repairs are ongoing. We will be monitoring these sites during the storms to see how they respond and will enact any emergency plans as necessary."

South Devon is counting the cost of storm damage which wrecked businesses, endangered homes and devastated 80 metres of railway line into the area.

Homes were evacuated and a major incident was declared at Dawlish after storms ripped through the seawall and left the railway track hanging over the sea as high tide and storm force gales gusting up to 85mph hit on Tuesday night.

More than 80 trees were felled across the region including in Brixham, Torquay, Teignbridge and South Hams.

At Riviera Terrace, Dawlish, homes were in danger of collapse after the seawall fell away leaving a crater into the sea. A total of 18 homes were evacuated and by yesterday morning a total of 26 families had come to an emergency rest centre set up at Dawlish Leisure Centre.

Teignmouth pier also suffered severe damage with sea water coming up through a hole in the floor.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police declared a major incident at 10.45pm on Tuesday night after damage to the railway line.

“There was an evacuation of the entire Sea Lawn Terrace due to a threat to life.

“Fire, ambulance, an HM Coastguard rope team and police were in attendance.

“People were evacuated from Riviera Terrace, Exeter Road and Sea Lawn Terrace and taken to Dawlish Leisure Centre.

“A further 30 people were found accommodation elsewhere.

“Sea Lawn Terrace closed on Wednesday morning. The police were in attendance to keep people away from the vulnerable properties.

“Police advised members of the public to stay away. A number of people had been gathering to watch the high tide.”

A policeman was injured while helping the evacuation of residents in Dawlish.

The officer, who is based in Teignmouth, suffered a suspected fractured shoulder.

An ambulance took him to Torbay Hospital for treatment.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “At Dawlish, around 80 metres of both tracks has been severely damaged by the sea, washing away ballast and the foundations on which the track is built. There is also severe damage to the seawall and the track and platforms at Dawlish station.”

Network Rail said engineers were on site at a number of locations, but could only make repairs where the weather conditions permit. It is expected to take at least six weeks.

“An initial assessment of the damage at Dawlish will be carried out as soon as the weather subsides to help Network Rail identify the extent and scope of repairs required to enable trains to run safely,” they added.

Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris raised the scenes of destruction with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons yesterday and met with Environment Secretary Owen Patterson.

She called for urgent action for the flood defence wall people affected in the area.

She said: “ Our railway line is out of action and 25 families have been evacuated. Can the Prime Minister confirm he is taking all action possible to get transport systems back in action, families supported and back in their homes and crucially that he will look to fast track a review of funding for a breakwater to protect the railway line and residents, which currently cannot be implemented before 2019.”

Riviera Terrace resident Neil Jones was among those evacuated.

He said: “There were waves hitting my window for around two hours before the high tide came in.

“It was like living in washing machine,” he said.

“I’ve always had faith in the sealwall, but when I peered out at 9.30pm it had gone.It was as scary as it’s ever been. I’ve always had faith in Brunel’s wall but it’s gone.”

Cllr Kevin Lake, who was at Dawlish, said Teignbridge Council took over the running of the evacuation from Devon County Council yesterday morning.

“They’ve been looked after well and have been fed and watered,” he said

“There was a swift response as the council worked closely with the Environment Agency.”

Teignbridge Council staff from the emergency planning contingency team, housing and rangers all working on the storms.

Sainsbury’s supermarket donated food for those at the centre.

Rob Moranzoni, grocery manager at Sainsbury’s Dawlish, said: “We are keen to respond to issues in the local community. A lot of my colleagues know people affected.”

The Point car park was also closed in Teignmouth and Dawlish Warren was affected with three groynes damaged and a sand bridge affected

Cllr Lake added: “The dune ridge has collapsed and emergency signs have been put up. The rangers have been keeping an eye on the situation and warning people to stay away.

“There’s quite a lot of damage where the groynes have been demolished.

“There are more storms and high tides to come at the weekend and we must warn people to stay away.”

On Wednesday in Teignmouth, onlookers watched as the coast was pounded by huge waves.

People were advised to stay away from the town and back beaches. The Point Car Park was closed along with parts of the seafront due to dangerous conditions.

One resident said that the waves were as high as the buildings on the pier overnight.

There was some concern that high waves had damaged the structure.

Lisa Sutcliffe, manager at the nearby Beachcomber cafe said: "The pier has taken a battering, it looks as if a strut has been damaged and water is coming up through. It looks a bit sorry for itself."

There were concerns about flying debris as the storms left a trail of destruction across the Westcountry.

There were reports at one stage of over 65 trees down across Devon and Cornwall including Torquay, Buckfastleigh and Chudleigh.

Buildings were damaged and power cables were down.

Seafront areas including Torquay were closed and residents urged by police to stay away.

All ferry services on the River Dart were suspended and train services between Torquay and Newton Abbot hit.

Train services between Exeter and Newton Abbot have been cancelled until Friday at the earliest after repair workers were called off the tracks because of the dangerous conditions.

This page is live and will update throughout the day.

*Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue dealt with 27 incidents overnight and rescued two people stuck in floodwater in Dawlish.

*Houses were evacuated in the Dawlish as the rail and track were washed away. Devon and Cornwall police have declared a major incident.

*30 metres of sea wall under the railway at Dawlish Station and iron railing have been washed away say Network Rail, the station platform has lost some of its coping stones.

*The A379 road has been flooded in several places between Dawlish and Starcross.

*A barn has collapsed onto the Bovey Tracey to Moretonhampstead Road A372 near Lustleigh.

*There are reports of 80 trees down across Devon.

*Amber warning issues for winds in Torbay with gusts over 70mph around coasts and high ground.

*The Met Office has a yellow warning for heavy rain across South Devon today.

*3,000 homes are without power in Devon and Cornwall.

Strong cross winds were reported on the A38.

*A broken down coach blocked one lane of the A38 between the Woodpecker Junction and Marley Head.

*Lower Dartmouth Ferry and Higher Dartmouth ferry are out of action.

*A379 Starcross the road is closed because of flooding and a fallen tree.

*Mill Street in Kingsbridge is blocked because of flooding near Prince of Wales Road.

*Firestone Lane in Abbotskerswell is closed because of a tree fallen around Manor Road.

*In Salcombe Cliff Road is closed because of fallen trees.

*Buses are running instead of trains between Newton Abbot and Exeter and flooding has halted trains running to Paignton.

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  • Sinjis_Things  |  February 07 2014, 5:47AM

    Re-opening the old Teign Valley line would be virtually impossible as the A38 is "in the way" but building a link line to go inland from Exeter to Newton Abbot would be a good idea then express trains could use it to go from Exeter to Newton Abbot. The current line could be rebuilt and stopping trains could use that to serve Dawlish and Teignmouth etc. Also it would be a good idea to build a breakwater off Dawlish to curb the power of the sea. Money from the HS2 project and the proposed cross London rail link, both of which are a waste of time, could be used. The only problem then would be the "powers that be" as they seem to think that if London doesn't benefit it's not important.

    |   1
  • Dave123Cook  |  February 06 2014, 9:40PM

    Rebuilding the line properly has to be cheaper than building a brand new diversionary line or re-opening the old Newton Abbot - Heathfield - Exeter line which at best was a very slow, single track branch. Rebuilding the old LSWR line from Okehampton to Tavistock (there is already a plan to re-open Tavistock - Bere Alston) could be more viable. It is not a fast line but it would be a very good diversionary line into Cornwall, would serve Okehampton and Western Dartmoor for holidaymakers, and would be good for freight too. The sea wall cannot be allowed to be abandoned as it protects Dawlish, so it needs rebuilding to a higher standard, with the primary main line into Torbay and South Devon running along it as present. This line was built on the cheap in the Victorian age, and really needs a huge investment in it. If we get a good alternative route round Western Dartmoor too, some good will have come out of this diabolical stormy weather which has left people homeless and at risk of losing all their family possessions.

    |   3
  • old_devonian  |  February 06 2014, 3:28PM

    The railway line between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth was vulnerable from the day it was built. Brunel was well aware of this, but was constrained from moving inland due to the huge cost of tunnelling. In the late 1930s the GWR even started to buy up land to re-route the line behind Dawlish, but World War II soon put a stop to that. The obvious solution is to regenerate the old SR main line between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton as an alternative route. The track bed is mostly still in place, though there are obstacles in Tavistock. But with pride of place going to immensely costly "prestige" projects such as HS2 and CrossRai, aimed to benefit just London and the Midlands , the likelihood of the poor old South West grabbing a slice of the action is remote to say the least. But where there's a will, there's a way....

    |   2
  • miner69er  |  February 06 2014, 5:50AM

    now they should re route that line?

  • Insiderinside  |  February 05 2014, 7:48PM

    Inside the Environment Agency have been exposing the failings of the Environment Agency for going on a year now: http://tinyurl.com/o6y5w5r - others have been exposing these failings for much longer.

  • John8533  |  February 05 2014, 5:58PM

    There is an old Railway line running to Newton Abbot from Exeter via Heathfield that was closed in the 60s. Surely it makes more sense to re open that keep repairing a line that is falling into the sea.

    |   11
  • newbailey  |  February 05 2014, 5:29PM

    can they not build a track aligned to the A380 with chains to drag train up haldon hill similar to dollar coasters?

    |   -6
  • Tony248  |  February 05 2014, 3:29PM

    At least we can't moan about the train being cancelled. Bit different to leaves on the line, or the wrong kind of snow , lol

    |   -7
  • welsh_exile  |  February 05 2014, 2:37PM

    I've had a brainwave. We could lower sea levels by pumping out water from the Atlantic and sending it to places that hasn't got any ... like the moon, Mars, Saturn etc.

    |   -8
  • Tony248  |  February 04 2014, 7:00PM

    Here's another scammer, though probably there's only a couple using a multiplicity of identities. martinadams, I am told the paper are working on getting rid of this trash; it's less a question of allowing it, more that the forum isn't monitored. They do remove it if you report it. I prefer to inform people- just in case there is anyone out there desperate enough to believe their drivel

    |   9