High wind and heavy rain batter Plymouth - pictures, video and live updates
Gale force winds and torrential downpours caused chaos across the city yesterday as roads flooded, trees fell and roofs blew off.
The Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary at Looe has been badly damaged after waters flooded through office buildings at 3.30pm yesterday.
And Tavistock Golf Course has been badly flooded - leaving it closed today.
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As the city awoke and winds began to strengthen, the Torpoint Ferry went down to just one vessel after wind was recorded at 50mph.
And shortly after, at around 10.30am, the Tamar Bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles for safety reasons, with the restrictions remaining in place well into the afternoon.
Station Approach was closed for the safety of passengers at around 11am after corrugated steel had come loose on the roof of the Regional Interactive Safety Centre, by the InterCity House.
Mark Chorley, station manager in the Plymouth area, said: “We had a report from the InterCity House that parts of the roof had come off and they fixed the roof back on. We had to close the road for the safety of the passengers. Now we are checking the rest of the roof and the air conditioning unit which is reported as loose as well.”
And as the winds grew ever stronger, a number of other city routes had to be closed due to falling debris.
At around 3pm a shopper walking near to NatWest bank, towards Drake Circus, saw part of the centre’s signage blow off the roof from above the Billabong shop.
A female customer was caught by the plastic as it fell to the ground leaving her with a minor injury to her ankle.
A spokesperson for Drake Circus said: “Plymouth, like much of the country, is currently experiencing severe adverse weather conditions and due to the exceptionally high wind a plastic piece of the signage on Old Town Street came loose and unfortunately caught a customer on the ankle.”
And an hour later, at around 4pm, metal work came away from the roof of the Job Centre forcing police to close Exeter Street for over 70 minutes at rush hour while the fire service got on the roof to fix down loose metal work still on the roof.
Flooding was reported in several areas of the city, including Gdynia Way, Forder Valley Road, Lipson Vale and Honicknowle Lane.
Commuters faced long delays as Gdynia Way, one of the city’s main routes, was closed again.
South West Water said: “Following a second incident of flooding from our sewerage network at Gdynia Way we believe that either the sewer has collapsed or has a serious blockage.
“As a matter of urgency we will liaise with Plymouth City Council and other partners to survey the sewer as soon as practicable, locate the damage and arrange to carry out any necessary repairs.
“We can only apologise profusely to those customers in Plymouth who have been affected by the flooding on Gdynia Way and we would like to reassure them that resolving the problem will receive our urgent attention.”
And public transport also took a battering with passengers travelling by train from Plymouth only being able to get as far as Exeter before having to use replacement buses due to a number of problems on the tracks.
Meanwhile, parents of schoolchildren at St Rumon’s School, Tavistock, were told the school was on ‘red alert’ for flooding, meaning it may be closed today.
The Environment Agency in the South West has warned people to be prepared for further flooding as Saturday and Sunday are set to see more wet weather.
Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary was suddenly deluged with water pouring through the ceiling at 3.30pm yesterday - severely damaging fixtures and fitting and destroying electrical equipment, computers and educational resources.
Trees have also been damaged by wind, threatening to fall into monkey habitats.
The charity has a justgiving/wildfutures page where you can donate towards repairs.
DRIVERS and homeowners survived several close calls yesterday as strong winds caused a number of trees across the city to fall.
Plymouth City Council’s street scene services team were called out to remove a tree that had fallen over a parked car in Royal Navy Avenue, in Keyham.
A large branch of a tree had fallen across the bonnet of the car and spilled out onto the road causing it to be closed at the junction with Victory Street.
Luckily the parked car was empty at the time the branch fell and no one was hurt.
In Plympton, Colebrook village was two feet deep in flood water last night and access to Boringdon Hill was cut off due to a fallen tree.
And at Marsh Mills, in Crabtree Close, a couple were left shaken after a large tree collapsed onto the roof of their house.
Steve and Margaret Chapman were sitting in their lounge at around 3pm when they heard a loud bang.
Margaret said: “I was eating my mince pies and cream and Steve was reading the paper when we heard a massive bang. I thought something was coming through the ceiling, I really did.
“It was so frightening, it took about half an hour for my heart rate to return to normal.”
A large tree had fallen onto the corner of their flat putting a hole through the roof and causing guttering and the TV aerial to fall off.
Steve said: “It was so frightening. It was just like a clap of thunder. It shook the house and even the spotlights fell out the sockets in the ceiling.”
THIS year’s annual Christmas lights switch-on proved to be something of a washout as only a handful of brave folk battled the weather to get the first glimpse of the city’s festive sparkle.
As torrential rain battered buildings and gale force winds howled through the streets, many festive shoppers favoured staying at home over watching the city light up with Christmas cheer.
Although Plymouth city bosses made the decision to cancel last night’s switch-on razzmatazz on Wednesday due to severe weather conditions, the lights were still switched on as part of a day of celebrations marking the launch of the Winter Festival, and the Christmas market also went ahead as planned.
But not even the wet weather could dampen the Christmas spirits of a brave few.
Susan Proctor, who was doing a spot of shopping before going to the theatre, said: “The lights are quite nice and the city looks very pretty. I think because the weather is so appalling people just want to stay at home. But as long as the lights don’t blow down I think they look rather nice.”
And seven-year-old Madeline, who was out Christmas shopping with Lin Law, said: “The Christmas lights are brilliant. I’m disappointed they had to cancel the show but I’ll come along when they reschedule. I’m feisty and feeling brave; this weather will not dampen my Christmas sprit.”
And Fee Bennett said: “The lights look nice but there is a lot of blue – it would be nice to see more of a contrast!”
Panto stars Basil Brush and Christopher Biggins were meant to be switching on the Christmas lights at an event featuring live music and entertainment on stage. City centre manager Clint Jones said the entertainment would be rescheduled nearer to Christmas.
Once the weather improves The Herald will bring you more pictures of the Christmas lights in all their glory.