Torrent of water devastates town

MORE than 100mm of rain fell across the North East on Monday and Tuesday leading to the flooding which devastated the town this week.

As the rain started to fall, the Environment Agency first issued a Flood Alert for the River Wansbeck at 6.09pm on Monday.

This was followed by a warning for Morpeth Riverside at 4.09am the next morning, and the rest of the town at 7.26am.

Yesterday, the agency wass aware of around 90 properties that were flooded in Morpeth.

Most of these were in the undefended area of High Stanners and Mitford Road, including a bed and breakfast and a number of bungalows that are home to elderly residents.

However, existing flood defences in Morpeth have protected up to 700 properties.

The multi-agency response to the flooding involved Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), Northumbria Police, the Environment Agency and other partner agencies.

The Northumberland Flood Action Plan, published following the floods in September 2008, was put into action and the operations room at West Hartford Community Fire Station opened at 10pm on Monday.

NFRS swift water rescue teams evacuated 37 High Stanners residents from their homes. These teams were also set up in response to the 2008 deluge and have been a vital addition to the fire service response.

The town’s leisure centre was also affected and a number of homes around Dawsons Place were flooded from the Cotting Burn, leading to further evacuations of residents as a precaution, taking the total to around 90 people.

Elsewhere, three properties in Kirkhill were affected by run-off water from the common.

A rest centre was set up at King Edward VI School, where staff from the county council’s adult services team and volunteer organisations, including the British Red Cross, made people welcome with hot drinks and other refreshments.

The county council handed out sandbags from the Terrace car park, the Storey car park, Middle Green estate and Mitford Road.

On a wider scale, the extreme rainfall and surface-water flooding also played havoc on the roads.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the A1 at Clifton junction remained closed due to the water coming off the local road network.

And further north, the A1 northbound at Swarland and Tritlington had closed that morning, before opening again at around 3.45pm.

Diversions took traffic up the A697.

However, at Tritlington, despite re-opening at 3.45pm, water running onto the road during further rainfall in the afternoon and early evening again closed it to traffic travelling northbound.

By yesterday morning, the issues on the A1 northbound had been cleared although closures remained on some of the roads into Rothbury until around 11.30am.

Nonetheless, the police were still issuing warnings of standing surface water on roads across the region, particularly minor roads, and urging motorists to take care.

In Morpeth itself, Whorral Bank was closed until mid-afternoon on Tuesday and Telford Bridge was open again by 6.45pm.

A visible police presence remained in the communities affected overnight, while the rest centre in KEVI remained open.