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Cornwall's Wild Weather
6:50pm 22nd November 2012
(Updated 6:50pm 22nd November 2012)
Pirate FM has heard the first reports of flooding as south-east Cornwall braces for up to a week's worth of rain in just a few hours.
120 homes in Torpoint are still without power after gale force winds battered the Duchy, bringing trees down and sending property flying.
Cornwall Council said its customer contact centre received more than 170 calls, about everything from flooding in St Austell, Penzance and Gweek to reports of fallen trees across the whole of Cornwall.
Sandra Rothwell, Cornwall Council's Duty Director, said: "While the worst of the weather now appears to have left Cornwall, we would still encourage people to take care when travelling. There may still be some roads which are affected by fallen trees or localised flooding. Council staff will remain on stand by overnight in case there are any further problems".
The nursery building at Torpoint Infant School has been washed out.
Head teacher Elisabeth Carney-Haworth said: "The rain has just come gushing into nursery so it's flooded nursery through the doors. But also, the gutters have just been unable to deal with that amount of rain and it's actually coming in through all the light fitting."
Warbstow Primary School in South East Cornwall closed today after a power failure left it without electricity.
Dean works in Betty's Tea Rooms in Torpoint and has been watching the weather get worse.
Earlier, the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for the region.
A spokesperson said: "A spell of very wet and very windy weather is expected to move west to east across many parts of the UK during Thursday. Coming so soon after the heavy rain which fell in many places on Wednesday this is likely to provoke further issues with flooding. In view of the wind and rain combination, the public should be prepared for transport disruption."
Forecasters fear the worst of the weather will be packed into just an hour or two, meaning that rivers and drains may not be able to cope.
Western Power says engineers are working on the problem but bosses do not know when supplies will be restored.
A thousand people cut off in Penzance on Thursday morning now have electricity back on.
There are flood alerts out for the St Austell and Par rivers, Looe and Seaton, Fowey, the whole of the Tamar, Lynher, Helford and the Fal, and the north and west Cornwall rivers. The rivers Tavy and Walkham across the border are also on alert. The latest updates can be found here with an interactive map here.
Cornwall Council said teams have been clearing drains and roads. Its emergency centre at New County Hall was opened at 9am to co-ordinate the emergency response. It is expected to close on Thursday evening, though officials will continue to monitor the situation overnight in case there is any change.
A spokesperson said: "Anyone whose property is prone to flooding should consider having a supply of sandbags ready to protect their home or business should they need to. Sandbags can be obtained from builders merchants, DIY and hardware stores.
"Anyone with responsibility for community Christmas lights and decorations should ensure they are properly secured against strong winds and consider turning off Christmas lights if the weather deteriorates. We would also advise checking for any damp or damage before turning them back on. Any problems should be dealt with by a qualified electrician."
Plymouth's official Christmas lights switch on has been called off.
Kevin Ward from the Environment Agency said: "‘The current unsettled spell of weather is set to continue up to Sunday with further spells of heavy rain expected across the South West over the next four days. Strong winds combined with heavy rain is expected on Thursday through to Friday morning. We urge everyone to keep up to date with forecasts and warnings and be prepared for what the weather will bring.
"With ground already saturated, we urge people to be extra vigilant and make sure they take steps to protect themselves and homes from the risk of flooding."
You can sign up for free flood alerts from the Environment Agency here.
First Great Western says it is expecting more disruption to its services through the day. You can check the latest delays and cancellations here.
National Rail said trains between St Erth and St Ives have been cancelled, with no replacement transport available. Passengers are being advised not to travel.
The St Mawes to Falmouth ferry is out of action.
The view of the Tamar is choppy, two Torpoint ferries are in operation and the Tamar Bridge has been closed to high-sided vehicles.
Drivers are being warned not to go out unless they really have to and to take it easy as trees and power cables come down.
Andrea from Camborne had a hairy journey to work in Liskeard:
"I saw a crash on the way in. People didn't appear to be slowing down. It seemed to be as fast and as urgent as ever. I felt wary.
"You can feel your car being lifted, you can feel it being buffeted and there are things blowing around. I got a stone chip this morning. Can you please just slow down because I'm a confident driver and I just felt like it was a bit different this morning."
Tips for Driving Safely in Strong Winds
- Keep both hands on the wheel. It's likely you will be blown off course by sudden gusts of wind. The faster you are going the further you will be pushed before you regain control, so keep your speed down and expect to be buffeted on exposed stretches of road or when overtaking lorries or other high sided vehicles.
- If you are being blown around - the chances are other road users will be too. Keep an eye out for people in lorries and caravans or riding motorbikes, mopeds or horses. If you break down, make sure you get out of your car even if you are on the hard shoulder.
- There is likely to be debris covering some back roads - remember that you never know what will be around the next corner. Long hanging branches may not be obvious if it is dark and they are just above the sweep of your headlights.
Top left image of flooding near Lifton Down courtesy of Nigel Machen. Top right image of a fallen tree blocking a road near Threemilestone courtesy of Kelly Moralee.
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