THE scenes were almost biblical and thousands were left stranded as a supercell storm swept across the North East yesterday afternoon.
Wearside escaped the worst of the torrential downpour as homes were flooded, cars abandoned, public transport halted and schools closed as the freak conditions struck.
Three Washington schools were shut due to flooding, hundreds of Wearside homes were left without power and events were cancelled at Herrington Country Park.
Police and fire services across the region were pushed to the limit yesterday after receiving thousands of calls to help those left stranded, injured or trapped by the extreme downpours.
As the big clean up got under way today, many Wearsiders were struggling to get to and from work due to flooded roads and public transport disruption.
Metro services between South Hylton and the Airport had resumed this morning after being cancelled yesterday. However, trains were running at 15 minute intervals only.
Rail passengers trying to travel North via the east coast faced a second day of disruption after the storms caused flash floods.
Dozens of schools remained closed today and Northern Powergrid said about 7,300 homes were without power after lightning strikes hit cables.
Emergencies services dealt with more than 1,500 calls across the Tyne and Wear area throughout yesterday.
While Wearside escaped some of the worst conditions, roads in and out of the city were flooded, with Washington worst hit.
Police and firefighters worked through the night to try and rescue many people stranded in their cars in gridlocked traffic. Drivers using the A1 close to the Washington services found themselves at standstill for much of last night.
Jennifer Martin, 38, of Blackfell, Washington, said: “The roads on our estate were terrible, with water almost a metre high. It got so bad, I wondered if it would ever stop, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Residents living in bungalows in Fatfield had to be evacuated, many seeking refuge at friends’ homes and hotels.
Today Albany Village Primary School, Washington Lambton Primary School and Washington Holley Park Primary School remained closed due to flooding problems.
Standing water means many roads, including the A182 near Princess Anne Park in Washington, remained closed.
In County Durham, a multi-agency command centre, made up of police, Durham County Council, North East Ambulance Service and Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, was set up at Durham police headquarters to deal with the volume of calls for help.
Motorists were today advised to take care on the roads, reduce their speeds and allow extra distance between themselves and other vehicles as debris is cleared.
Sunderland City Council today cancelled an open air screening of Dirty Dancing due to take place at Herrington Country Park tonight.
Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “Work is ongoing in some areas, but most roads are recovering from the flooding, however there are likely to be problems in some local areas while the clean up operation continues.
“We want to reassure people that everything possible is being done to minimise disruption and bring our roads and communities back to normal - as soon as possible.”