A night of hurricane winds caused mayhem across Cheshire East – pulling down power lines and leaving thousands of households in darkness.
Wind speeds reaching almost 100mph battered both south and north of the Borough, meaning the Council received an unprecedented number of calls, including reports of more than 200 trees torn down and several buildings damaged – including Crewe Railway Station.
Leader of the Council Michael Jones, who had a power cut in his own ward of Bunbury, praised the spirit of residents.
He said: “We’ve had unprecedented calls and I can only praise staff who worked through the night to make sure that power was reconnected and the vulnerable were cared for – and we are confident that we can make a quick recovery now.
“I’ve been hearing stories of how well people in the Borough have dealt with this in true British spirit, and they should be praised.”
The gusty winds first moved into the Borough yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon and reports of damage started coming through soon after 4pm, the time that the Met Office predicted the severe winds would start.
Cheshire police reported a total of 1,457 calls, 685 of which were 999 calls and 772 non-emergency calls – a 60 per cent increase.
There were 752 weather-related incidents, the majority being trees and cables down causing disruption on the roads and hazards to the public.
Residents were warned to only make essential journeys while the gales were in full force. Cheshire East winter crews were also out gritting the network after freezing conditions began moving in.
Teams of highways engineers remained in force to ensure that the road network was kept as clear as possible after the Thelwall viaduct on the M6 was closed during rush hour and beyond, causing major traffic disruption.
Although today the majority of the road network is now open, including the Thelwall viaduct, the principal road network remains clear and passable care.
In total, Cheshire East Council’s emergency teams have received a total of 300 plus calls from concerned members of the public reporting blocked roads with fallen trees.
Four further roads remain closed: Cliff Road, Wilmslow Marton Lane, Gawsworth Foden Lane, Warford, Sandy Lane/Whirley Lane, Whirley.
Early on there was a joint tactical coordination centre set up with Police HQ in Winsford to ensure an integrated public safety strategy.
Although en-route to clear up fallen trees, crews were coming across unreported trees down, making the situation even harder to cope as congestion was also a problem.
Gritting across the network began around 7pm in readiness for predicted icy conditions and continued into the early hours of this morning.
Crewe Railway Station was evacuated after damage to the roof and 500 people were evacuated to a nearby hotel. Rail networks are now normal after the disruption.
There were reports of structural damage to chimneys, roof tiles and the gable end of house in West Street, Crewe. Cheshire East Council is currently assessing its safety.
A block of 16 flats on Percyvale Street, in Macclesfield, had damage to the roof causing the evacuation of all residents to a local public house. Cheshire East Council’s building control teams are currently assessing.
The registered landlord, Equity Housing, put up three families in a bed and breakfast last night. All other residents were allowed to return to their homes.
Pockets of power blackouts were reported with 12,000 Scottish Power customers across the Cheshire area without power (Summerford and Knutsford impacted).
There were also 500 Electricity North West customers in Macclesfield without power. Power companies will continue to restore supplies as quickly as possible and are prioritising the most vulnerable people.
A power failure in Knutsford has meant Tatton Park will remain closed today (February 13) due to yesterday’s severe weather. A tree within the park brought down power lines. Scottish Power has assessed the damage and hopes to have power restored by this afternoon.
Traffic lights out:
We currently have nine traffic signal junctions out of action due to power failures. Cheshire East signals teams are out trying to restore services with the help of power companies. We have a couple of junctions with temporary lights in operation until the power is restored. These are:
Today the clean-up operation continues and Cheshire East Highways safety inspectors will be out in force reviewing the network.
Meanwhile, the Met Office is predicting calmer conditions across the North West today, although winds will increase along coastal fringes by early evening. A yellow warning is likely to be issued in relation to snowfall at higher ground levels.