Sunderland counts the cost of the storm

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HIGH winds and floods damaged homes and left Wearsiders without power as gales swept across the region.

Roads were blocked off and power cables brought down as the first storm of winter arrived in Sunderland.

Flood warnings were also in place on the coast as the Environment Agency expressed concerns over high water levels in the Wear.

Win Warren, 75, found herself trapped in her home yesterday morning after the storm caused a telegraph pole to topple into her front garden.

Narrowly missing her car, wires were left strewn across the pensioner’s drive and police warned her to remain inside the house.

Win, of Hetton Road, Houghton, said: “At about 10am yesterday, someone knocked on the door to say the pole was looking unsteady, swaying to one side.

“My husband and I then watched helpless from the window as it fell into the driveway, narrowly missing my car.”

Win had been due to attend a Women’s Institute party at noon, but found herself a prisoner in her own home, unable to leave.

She said: “We were left waiting for the electricity board to come and make the problem safe.

“I suppose it was quite a different way to spend a morning.”

A spokeswoman for NEDL confirmed the company was working to restore the power at the Hetton Street properties.

The gable end of a house came crashing to the ground in Moray Street, Fulwell, forcing police to close a section of the street after bricks scattered across the road.

The house owner, Terry McBay, discovered the damage when he returned home from a shopping trip.

Roy Deltrice, 73, from the street, said: “It must have happened at about 10am, there were bricks all over the road. It was a real mess.

“The winds were the worst I’ve seen in a while.”

Children were temporarily kept inside Farringdon Community Sports College amid concerns about the safety of scaffolding around the school building.

Howard Kemp, headteacher, said: “We asked the scaffolders to come in just to make sure everything was safe.

“We are having a new roof put on at the minute so just wanted to make sure there was no problems. As a precaution, we kept the pupils inside yesterday morning until it was sorted out.”

Tanya Hallem, the landlady of The Golden Lion, South Hytlon, was forced to close the pub’s doors when the River Wear burst its banks.

Water from the river and sewers flowed into the cellar and seeped in through the walls destroying stock.

Tanya, her husband Steven, and members of staff spent more than four hours using buckets to try and drain the water away.

The landlady, who was left without customers for most of the day, said she was hysterical when she saw the water cascading towards her business.

“I was screaming,” she said. “It was scary when it was coming through the walls.

“I don’t know who needed help more than us because we are right at the bottom of the bank next to the river.

“It has destroyed a lot in the cellar because it’s sewage water and the furniture will be ruined because of the smell.”

Coastguard bosses were out in force at the seafront yesterday afternoon due to concerns about the tide changes.

Neal Mearns, from Sunderland Coastguard, said: “We wanted to have a presence there to ensure people were kept safe.”

Sunderland City Council and the Environment Agency also issued a warning urging people to take care on the coast.

Roker Pier was closed off and fishermen were advised not to go fishing along the coast or riverbanks because of the risk of high waves, strong currents and gusting winds.

Yesterday’s 5.30pm switch-on of the Shiney Row Christmas lights also had to be cancelled because of the conditions.

Officers were also monitoring the situation along the River Wear after concerns were expressed about rising tides close to the Fish Quay in the East End.

Water flooded onto pavements and roads with businesses in the area expressing concerns about flooding to car parks.

The National Glass Centre in Monkwearmouth also closed its doors early amid concerns, along with the Media Centre of Sunderland University.

Fire stations across the area were busy throughout the day, mostly with false alarms as a result of the bad weather interfering with electrical systems.

Also, a van overturned on the A19 at Peterlee shortly before 10.30am due to the winds, but no-one was hurt.