CLEAN-UP operations are well underway as businesses count the cost of flooding along the Sunderland coast.
Those hit by the Thursday’s storms today told how they were forced to shut their doors as sea surges pounded their shops and restaurants.
Customers had to be turned away from Little Italy on Seaburn promenade when police closed off steps leading down to the eaterie at about 5pm.
Owner Alloa Boumedjane, who has worked there for 18 years, said: “It is the worst storm that I have seen here.
“The water was a few inches from the door.
“The chefs were in and the staff were in, so we were ready to open at about 4pm.
“I knew we were going to be fine, but further down the seafront got it really bad.
“The rock formation out there keeps the strong waves away.
“That is Little Italy’s protection.”
However Mr Boumedjane, who lives in Boldon, added it was now business as usual.
Sunderland City Council workers were out early on yesterday morning repairing damage to the promenade in Seaburn, where a 10-metre stretch of railings had been ripped away by the fierce waves.
The Seaburn Shelter was still closed off yesterday afternoon and dog walkers had to dodge rocks and driftwood, swept into large heaps.
Fulwell ward councillor George Howe was out early to survey the damage.
He said: “Parts of the promenade have been washed away and I think it will cost a fair bit to repair.
“I think it will be pretty expensive.
“The council workers were out at 5am, so I must commend them.”
Businesses on Roker promenade put out sandbags to try and keep sea water at bay.
Sue’s Cafe in Marine Walk stayed dry, despite the high tides.
Owners Sue and Tom Parkin blamed a lack of management at Roker beach for flooding problems.
Sue, from Roker, said: “This is the highest I’ve seen the water and I’ve been here nine years.
“The beach is not managed like it used to be. I know everywhere’s had high water, but I can see the effect on the beach since they paid the resort staff off.
“We can see the level of the beach changing. They used to grade the sand down.”
Further inland, the National Glass Centre has re-opened, after being forced to close on Thursday.
A quiz night was cancelled after the Coastguard raised concerns about river levels.
University of Sunderland accommodation at Pann’s Bank was evacuated at about 5.30pm.
Students were allowed back in to the 270-bed halls after two hours.
St Peter’s university campus has also re-opened. The building, which houses Sunderland College and the Sir Tom Cowie media centre, was closed as a precaution.