High winds and heavy rain leave trail of havoc

PUBLISHED: 09:00 04 May 2012

Flood signs near Churchill cross.

Flood signs near Churchill cross.

Archant

HEAVY rain and winds of almost 60mph smashed caravans, flooded roads and ripped trees from the ground at the weekend, while flood warnings were issued for rivers across the district.

All waterways in North Somerset were put on flood alert by the Environment Agency (EA) this week after the Met Office issued a series of severe weather warnings.

Storms battered the area, flooding a school’s playing fields and almost putting two classrooms out of action.

The weather comes despite North Somerset being officially in drought status, according to the EA.

A 50ft tree was uprooted in a man’s garden, smashing through a neighbour’s fence, while trees falling in a caravan park in Brean caused more than £55,000 of damage, writing off two caravans.

North Somerset Council officers dealing with standing water worked through the night on Monday to keep flooded roads safe, including Garston Lane in Blagdon.

Clifford Picton, of Wordsworth Road on the Bournville estate, was shocked to find an enormous tree in his garden had been ripped from the ground by high winds overnight, falling through his next door neighbour’s fence.

Mr Picton said: “The tree was lifted from the ground whole by its roots and left a big hole, which is now filled with water, in the garden. It is an amazing sight because the tree is just so big and it has left such a mess.”

Two trees, one thought to be at least 100 years old, hit caravans at Kinnoull and Pinmoor static holiday park in South Road, Brean, on Sunday morning.

Fortunately, there was no-one inside the privately-owned homes at the time.

Both caravans, worth £55,000 in total, were written off.

A tree in Grove Park which had become well-known to town residents and visitors also became a victim of the storms.

Until Sunday it had featured a rather unusual addition – a spike from a metal railing which had been blown into it by the force of a bomb explosion in World War Two.

Since the blast in January 1941, during a raid by the German Luftwaffe, the spike had remained embedded in the tree.

But the oak was split in two by strong winds and council contractors took down the tree for safety reasons on Monday.

Fire crews were called to a village school to help save it from flooding after a neighbour reported that water was about to breach the premises on Sunday.

Winscombe Primary School in Moorham Road had water building up outside two classrooms and its hall, prompting worried onlookers to summon fire crews to help stop the building from flooding.

Headteacher Linda Grogan said: “It was millimetres away from getting in.

“I don’t know where we would have put two classes of children. It would have been quite a disaster.”

Tuesday night’s eagerly awaited Somerset Premier Cup final football clash between Weston and Clevedon Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

The derby was due to be played at Clevedon’s Hand Stadium, but after a pitch inspection it was decided that the surface would be unplayable.

Downpours did little to entice spring holidaymakers to the area - and those who did venture to North Somerset were left questioning the decision.

Nigel Field went camping in Brean with his pregnant wife Sarah and five other family members, and says they are ‘lucky to be alive’ after experiencing terrible weather conditions.

The 36-year-old said: “The tents were collapsing. It was like a tornado was ripping through the whole campsite.

“Our tent blew into a fence, then into some nearby power cables. We could easily have been killed during the night. It was frightening.”

Although more heavy rain is expected today (Thurs), the worst of the weather seems to have passed, as there are no warnings for the coming weekend and only light showers forecast.

n Mercury readers have sent in lots of pictures of the wet weather via our new site, Weston.iwitness24.co.uk - to view the gallery, go to www.westonmercury.co.uk


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