Clean up underway after storm surge hits North East coast

Residents and businesses in the North East have been left counting the cost of the storm surge which caused flooding and wind damage

Staff at Lloyds No1 bar on Newcastle Quayside begin the clean-up operation
Staff at Lloyds No1 bar on Newcastle Quayside begin the clean-up operation

Businesses and homeowners have been left counting the cost after the North East was hit by a storm surge.

Gusts of wind over 100mph, rain and the greatest tidal surge to hit the region’s coastline for decades combined to cause devastation on Thursday.

Dozens of businesses were forced to close and thousands of properties, including some schools, lost power.

Now, a major clean-up operation is underway as council and powergrid workers make repairs

At Whitley Bay, a stretch of the southern promenade was cordoned off after waves tore off paving slabs and railings.

Mark Rea, manager of Boardwalk cafe, returned to his business yesterday to discover the outdoor furniture and plants decimated and the road down to his cafe ripped apart by the tide.

He said: “As far as the building is concerned, amazingly we were untouched.

 

“The water splashed over and was on the promenade but it did not get inside. We were lucky.”

Meanwhile in Tynemouth, fears sand dunes could collapse led to the closure of part of the Longsands beach.

At the Fish Quay, in North Shields, the Tyne burst its banks and water and seaweed gushed into restaurants and shops.

Jonathan Richards, manager of Ocean Fish Bar, said customers got up and left as they saw the river out of the window.

He said: “The takeaway area and stock room have been destroyed.

“We have lost business. It has been a nightmare. The water was in for an hour and a half but it felt like a lifetime.”

The surge also ruined the dream home of newlyweds Anita and Andrew Ball, who just 18 months ago moved into a luxury ground floor flat at River Garden View.

The couple had saved for 10 years to buy the home looking out to sea.

Its electricity supply, wood flooring and furniture are now ruined along with the couple’s clothes and shoes, and the damage is likely to run to tens of thousands of pounds.

Anita, fundraising director for St Oswald’s Hospice, said she dashed home from work on Thursday to a living room 2.5ft deep in water.

She said: “By the time we got back the water was already coming through the floor.

“We got back quick and we didn’t know how high it was going to go the rate it was rising.”

 

North Tyneside Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “There was a sterling effort by all those involved and I would like to thank everyone for the work they did to help and support those affected by flooding, but also importantly preventing this being a much worse situation.”

In Newcastle, council street-cleaning teams were out in force along the Quayside during the early hours yesterday.

Around 17 properties between the law courts and Riverside nightclub were damaged by water seeping in under doorways and even through windows on Thursday evening.

At the Quayside bar, a team of workers were needed to dehumidify the air, clean the carpets and mop after water from the Tyne flooded the entire ground floor of the pub.

Anthony Buckley, area manager for J D Wetherspoon, said: “Something like this can be devastating for a business but I think everyone pulled together in the end.

“We have had people in from 6am - it has been a massive clean-up operation.”

Helen Hinds, emergency planning and resilience manager, said the council- who said the cost of the clean up was almost £15,000 - was prepared for flooding along the Quayside, but not of that magnitude.

She said: “We had staff working through the night, sweeping up the seaweed from the road and pathways immediately following the flood. I’ve never seen so much seaweed and driftwood lying in the middle of a built-up part of the city like that. It was unbelievable to see.”

Gateshead Council strategic director of community based services, David Bunce, said the authority opened a major incident room to deal with a string of problems caused by the storm and Gateshead’s Saltwell Park was closed while staff checked for damage.

He said: “At this stage it would seem that the most significant damage done by the surge is at the Gateshead Millennium Bridge where flood waters entered the control and plant rooms.”

The Environment Agency said last night flood warnings are still in place for coastal areas of Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland, as well as for some sections of the rivers Tyne and Wear.

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