Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Floods Strike Once Again as Heavens Open; Trains and Car Drivers Face Long Delays

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Floods Strike Once Again as Heavens Open; Trains and Car Drivers Face Long Delays

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Mullen

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."

Network Rail said lightning strikes had caused loss of signalling along tracks between Durham and Littleburn, causing delays between 1.30 and 2.15pm.

Lightning also caused a momentary power cut to the railway at Ferryhill, County Durham, but power was taken from a generator to protect services.

Northumbria Police said motorists had run into trouble on more than a dozen roads on Tyneside, including the Wallsend Road in North Shields, Saltwell Road in Gateshead, Barrack Road in Newcastle, Ullswater Way in Slatyford, Newcastle, and the Western Highway in Washington. …

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