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7:04am 29th October 2013
(Updated 7:04am 29th October 2013)

There are fears that storm St Jude could have hit half-term holiday bookings in Cornwall.

The Chamber of Commerce says the Duchy relies on last-minute bookings in October.

Spokesman Kim Conchie tells Pirate FM it is business as usual: "I haven't heard anything yet that people cancelled. It is very important to Cornwall. Not as many people as used to book weeks in advance so the last-minute type of holiday is very important to us now."

Howling winds and rain have slammed into Cornwall.

Winds gusting up to seventy miles an hour howled through.

That brought down trees from St Mellion to St Day, blew out street lights in Saltash and caused flooding in Penzance, Looe, Polperro, St Austell, Gorran and St Blazey.

More than a hundred people lost power - mainly around Newquay, although others were also temporarily affected.

But Gareth Waring from Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance thinks the Duchy dodged the worst of the weather: "We had a few more leaves blown off the trees but that's the time of year. No branches hanging, no trees down, no nothing so we got away quite lightly. The garden is designed against south-westerly winds anyway, all the shelter built is on that side. I think we missed the worst of it to be quite honest."

The Environment Agency has a flood warning out for the Upper Tamar from Tamarstone to Polson Bridge. A spokesperson said: "Heavy rain has fallen in the Upper Tamar catchment overnight and river levels are continuing to rise in response to this rainfall. Further heavy showers are forecast throughout Monday."

There are also alerts out for the Middle and Lower Tamar, River Lynher and north Cornwall's rivers. You can find the latest details here.

The fire and rescue service were called to ten incidents; while crews from CORMAC and the council's environment service dealt with eighteen incidents, three in West Cornwall and fifteen in East Cornwall. 

Highways crews dealt with surface water flooding at Arch Hill, Truro; Par Moor Road, the road between Kelly Bray and Callington and the A388 at Hatt. There were reports of a number of fallen trees blocking roads, including  Sheviock, Lostwithiel, Pentewan, Polbathic, Altarnun, Scorrier to St Day, Hatt, Gunnislake. The Tamar Bridge was also closed to high sided vehicles. Further reports of fallen trees are expected as more people drive to work.

Phil drove from Helston to Exeter. He told Pirate FM: "The surface water can be quite bad in places. I hit a few puddles, that slowed me down."

John has been at work, driving around Liskeard, Bodmin and East Taphouse. He said: "You don't see it till you hit it. It'll catch you unawares and pull you to one side or the other. I did catch it - and it did pull me and I didn't even see it."

The Met Office has stood down the amber weather warning that had been due to last till midday but forecaster Phoebe Smith says they cannot rule out any more storms across the winter: "It is likely that we will see some more stormy conditions at times but this type of storm is usually the kind of storm we have once every few years. The last storm we had similar to this was back in January 2007."

Peter Coaten is a driving instructor in Redruth. He warned: "You need to double the distance you are away from the guy in front. It needs to be four seconds on a wet day and, if there is really torrential rain, you can double that again. So, leave a really big gap. Allow yourself to stop in case the person should brake hard.

"You can keep a really good grip on the wheel because it can be quite shocking when the wind catches your car.

"If you're overtaking cyclists or pedestrians give them a wide berth because they do get blown about a little bit."

Devon and Cornwall Police have had more than a hundred extra officers and staff on duty overnight to deal with emergencies, coordinated from Silver Command centres, set up in Truro and Plymouth. They have dealt with around 250 calls over the last twenty-four hours.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor has led on operations throughout the weekend.

She said: "It's vital we are ready and prepared for incidents like this and our plans have been well tested this weekend and continue to be.

"We have received a large number of weather related calls, but with the efforts of police staff, officers and with the support of partners across the board, the response provided has been excellent.

"It is particularly heartening to see Specials as volunteers turning out in such numbers at very short notice.

"Our focus is now on ensuring Devon and Cornwall remains safe as the region wakes and begins to clear up."

Waves of more than twenty feet have been battering the Cornish coast.

Ian Guy from Falmouth Coastguard said: "Cliff edges become very dangerous places when they become wet and windy. There's a temptation for some people to go out and wave dodge or wave watch on harbours and breakwaters.

"We would certainly warn against that. It's a very dangerous thing to do and we've had fatalities in the past.

"The winds themselves can cause an eddying effect on the edge of cliffs. People can be pulled off the edge by the wind swirling."

The council said the heavy rain may have affected the quality of Cornwall's bathing waters at the beginning of half term.

Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council's Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, has thanked the emergency services and other agencies who worked through the night to ensure the safety of members of the public during the storm.  

"A huge amount of hard work and planning by a wide range of organisations goes into ensuring that we deal effectively with incidents such as these," he said.  "Although Cornwall was not as badly affected as originally feared, I would like to congratulate everyone who worked tirelessly through the night to ensure public safety.

"I would also like to thank the people of Cornwall who responded so well to the storm warnings and ask them to continue to take care during the coming hours."

7:04am 29th October 2013

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