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VIDEO: 80mph Gales Bring Flood Risk to Cornwall

Extreme Weather - rain

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:02am 23rd December 2013. (Updated at 9:06pm 23rd December 2013)

80mph winds scream across Cornwall, with torrential rain and the risk of flooding.

There is an amber weather warning out for the Duchy, as the last storm before Christmas sweeps through.

It could last into Christmas Eve, and dump up to 8cm of rain on already sodden ground.

The winds have ripped up a dozen trees, blocking some roads.

Around 700 homes and businesses across Cornwall are without power, including around Marazion, Devoran and Helston. That is down from some 5,000 addresses at its worst.

Western Power Distribution says it has engineers working to restore supplies but could not say when everyone would be reconnected. In the meantime, you can get advice on how to protect the Christmas food shop below.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said: "A spell of heavy rainfall is expected to affect parts of southern England and South Wales during Monday. This will fall onto saturated ground and lead to a risk of some flooding. Gale to severe gale force winds will be an added hazard, with the potential for very strong gusts across coastal areas.

"The public should be prepared for the likelihood of some significant disruption due to the combined hazards of heavy rainfall and high winds.

"The rainfall should clear southeast England on Tuesday morning, with the winds moderating from the west.

"Meanwhile, south to southwesterly winds will increase with gusts 70-80 mph likely around exposed coasts, particularly along the English Channel.

"Further inland, gusts of 50-60 mph are likely through the amber area, with a lower risk of gusts reaching 70mph - more especially across southeast England during the evening."

The Environment Agency has put out a string of flood alerts for the Duchy. You can find them here. It has also issued Flood Warnings for the Rivers Lynher, Ottery at Canworthy Water and the Lower Tamar from Morwellham to Cotehele Quay, warning that the extra rain could mean the rivers bursts their banks overnight.

It is worried because river levels are already high - and look set to get higher during Monday and Tuesday.

A spokesperson said: "Rain is now falling steadily across the area. The heaviest rain is expected to last till around 1am on Tuesday, especially on south facing slopes and high ground, which is already saturated.

"River levels will continue to rise overnight, with localised flooding expected.

"With the outlook unsettled until the New Year, please take action now to protect your property, especially if you are away over the Christmas break."

Teams are out across the Duchy clearing rivers of debris in a bid to cut the risk that some could burst their banks.

High tide led to storm surges sending massive waves over the side of Penzance promenade. Jean told Pirate FM: "It's flooded. These waves are coming over and they've got nowhere to go. It's really, really bad. My car is rocking and rolling at the moment."

The storms come as thousands of people are expected to start the great Christmas getaway, after stretches of the A30 were shut on Sunday after two fatal crashes.

Pete Williams from the RAC said: "The wind can blow debris into the road, trees may well fall down and, certainly with country roads over the last few weeks with the bad weather, we've seen the roads blocked."

The council has closed a section of the southwest coastpath from Talland to Hannafore amid landslip fears.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "The path has been closed as a precaution following an inspection by the Council’s Soils Engineer which revealed a number of tension cracks and the potential for a landslide in the area.

"A temporary signed diversion around the closure is in place for coastal walkers and the temporary closure will be reviewed in the New Year."

A garage wall has collapsed onto a neighbouring property in Newquay, while firecrews from the resort and Perranporth were scrambled to Goonhavern. A spokesperson for Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said: "On arrival the crews found that a large section of a barn roof had blown off into the road and wedged against a lorry. An appliance winch was used to secure the debris and crews proceeded to make the area safe."

Crews have also been called out to floods in St Just, St Ives and Looe, while Sandplace is cut off by a flood to one side and a fallen tree on the other. 

Sandplace Flood

Photo: Gill Bridges


Firefighters have also rescued an elderly couple from a car near Bissoe after it got trapped in around three feet of flood water. A spokesperson added: "On receipt of a call stating that an elderly couple were stuck in their car in water approximately two to three feet deep, appliances and resources from Truro, Falmouth, Camborne and St. Austell were mobilised, fortunately on arrival it was found that the vehicle had been towed out of the water and Cornwall Fire & Rescue services were not required."

Officers from Cornwall Council’s Highways, Environment, Fire and Rescue and Emergency Management services are monitoring the situation closely and are on standby to deal with any problems.

Officials said: "Agencies are asking people to follow the advice on dealing with the potential severe weather, and are warning people not to drive through flood water.  Over the past few days a number of people had to be rescued from their cars after driving though floodwater.  Driving through flood water can also create waves which can then affect properties. "

The Council is also advising people to avoid walking along the coast path and by cliff edges during the strong winds.

During November’s flooding a number of householders reported difficulties in obtaining sandbags when the severe weather affected their local area. A spokesman added: "As neither the Council nor the Environment Agency has a statutory duty to provide sandbags, anyone whose property is prone to flooding should ensure they have a supply of sandbags ready to protect their home or business should they need to.  Local communities are also encouraged to check with vulnerable neighbours in case they need help with obtaining flood protection materials."

Sandbags can be obtained from builders merchants, DIY and hardware stores. Anyone who is unsure if their property is at risk can check on the environment agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call the floodline on 0845 988 1188.

For further advice on preparing for flooding visit the environment agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or the Cornwall Council website at www.cornwall.gov.uk/flooding

You can stay up to date with the latest information by listening to Pirate FM online here.


Dealing WIth a Power Cut

1. Switch off appliances

Remember to switch off all electrical appliances that may have been in use when supply was interrupted and are not designed to run unattended, for example:

Cookers and electric fires
Chip pans
Bar fires

Leave at least one light switched on so you will know when your power is restored.

2. Fridges

Leave the door closed if possible until the supply is restored.
Chilled products should remain safe for a number of hours.
Frozen food in the small freezer compartment at the top of the fridge should remain safe for several hours.

3. Freezers

A full freezer will stay colder longer than an empty one so if your freezer is only part full, consider freezing tubs of water (empty ice cream tubs are ideal).

Leave the door closed as freezers should remain sufficiently cold to protect food for a number of hours without electricity. The manufacturer's leaflet may give you specific times for your model.
Cover the freezer with blankets while the supply is off to give extra insulation.
Remove blankets as soon as power returns.

4. Lighting

To provide some light, ensure you have a torch close to hand and that the batteries are working.

If you feel you must use candles, paraffin or gas lamps then please take great care:

Place them on a firm non-combustible surface where they will not be knocked over.
Place them away from curtains, soft furnishings and from children and pets.
Don't leave them unattended.
Never leave children alone with them, especially overnight in bedrooms.

5. Heating

If you have an alternative form of heating be sure to use it safely.

Don't move a paraffin heater when it's alight.
Get it checked if it hasn't been used recently.

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