Floods strike once again as heavens open
Jul 7 2009 by Tom Mullen, The Journal
FLASH floods caused chaos in parts of the North East yesterday as lightning struck railway tracks and rain brought roads to a standstill.
The region awoke to black clouds and thunder early in the morning, and torrential downpours continued to cause widespread flooding into last night.
Lightning strikes caused hold-ups on railway lines in County Durham, while firefighters and police were inundated with calls as dozens of roads were closed.
Also in County Durham, Ushaw College, a Catholic priests’ seminary, was struck by a powerful lightning bolt, damaging the roof.
Businesses were affected by the deluge, with a PC World superstore in Kingston Park, Newcastle, closing yesterday afternoon when water scrambled the store’s electrics.
Meanwhile, memories of the recent sunny spell were washed away as pedestrians dived for doorways and dodged huge puddles in an attempt to take shelter in town and city centres.
Firefighter Chris Lowther, group manager for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said his crews had experienced one of the busiest shifts of the year.
He said: “It’s been absolutely chock-a-block. The calls started coming in from Kenton and Fawdon in the afternoon, and then swept across towards Gateshead. The main problems were standing water on roads and water getting into people’s homes.
“The number of calls reached the stage where we were extremely stretched, and at that stage we assess each situation to make sure the right resources are going to the right places.
“But because of the water, it makes actually getting to the incidents difficult. There’s a huge possibility of road traffic accidents, but thankfully we didn’t see any of them.”