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North-East cleans up after worst storm in living memory
THE North-East was last night still clearing up after one of the worst storms in living memory.
Thursday afternoon’s torrential downpour - a month’s rain fell in two hours - caused flash flooding in many parts of the region, causing major travel disruption.
Hourly trains between London and Edinburgh resumed yesterday morning on the East Coast Main Line, which had been closed between Newcastle and Berwick by a landslip.
Electricity to 23,000 homes around Consett and the Tyne Valley was lost on Thursday.
As of 5.30pm yesterday, the number of customers without power as a result of the flooding and lightning storm stood at 2,450 - with the Consett, Stanhope and Alnwick areas worst affected.
A Northern Powergrid spokesman said all homes should be back on line by late last night or this morning.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s control centre dealt with more than 400 calls in three hours on Thursday and also handled calls for the Tyne and Wear and Northumberland brigades The service’s Chief Executive, Susan Johnson, said: "There was little advanced warning of the severity of the weather conditions but despite this our operational response, call handling and incident command were exceptional.
"A number of properties were flooded, drivers were stuck in their vehicles that had been caught in flood waters and we responded to fires caused by lightning strikes.
"The service dealt with five life risk calls and assisted with the evacuation of properties in the Lanchester area when the river Brownie burst its banks".
At the height of Thursday’s inundation roads in the county were affected including the A68, A167 and A690 but nearly all closed roads were re-opened yesterday.
All available Durham County Council highways teams were working to clear roads.
Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of direct services, said resources were concentrated on the worst-affected places.
"Thanks to this targeted approach many of the issues in these areas will be addressed today, however some substantial work will be required in places.
"While we will look at any possible central funds available, the most important thing for now is to help businesses get back on track and residents to return to normal daily life.
"This has been and continues to be a significant programme of work for the council and it is at times like this that the county is put to the test. I would like to thank communities across the area for their tremendous response to some very difficult situations and the staff who have worked in some appalling conditions."
Thirteen schools in the county were closed yesterday but should re-open on Monday.
Meanwhile, business advisory firm Deloitte warned that flood-related insurance claims could put up premiums.
Steve Williams, financial services partner at Deloitte in the North-East, said: "Previous experience has shown that widescale flooding has a significant impact on the level of claims borne by insurance companies and in recent years has tipped them into losses for their household accounts.
"The overall impact of this will almost certainly be further premium rises for policyholders as insurers seek to recover the losses they have made."