High winds of between 80-100mph wrought havoc across Cheshire West last night.
Streetscene and Highways teams from Cheshire West and Chester Council are today continuing the clean-up operation after working until 4am this morning to deal with damage caused by the gale force winds and 150 fallen trees across the borough.
Four roads remain closed after fallen trees brought down electricity cables: Utkinton Lane in Tarporley, Wet Lane in Tilston, Barrow Lane in Barrow and Rake Lane in Backford.
Trampolines, fences and wheelie bins bore the brunt of the elements but Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service received several reports of trees falling onto homes.
Firefighters were called to a report of a collapsed building on Greenway Walk in Northwich at 6.05pm.
The gable end of the property has partially collapsed. Two adults and two children were inside the house at the time and were safely evacuated by the crews, after they had removed the debris and cleared a safe exit path.
A house on Swanlow Lane in Winsford sustained damage to its chimney stack by a falling tree.
Firefighters set up a cordon before handing the incident back over to the home owner.
A fallen tree on a house on Kelsall Road in Tarvin caused tile damage.
About a third of a bungalow on Malpas Road in Northwich collapsed after the gale force winds ripped the car port from the main building. Fire crews confirmed nobody was trapped and secured the area.
One fire engine attended a report of an unsafe chimney stack on South Street in Chester at 9.16pm last night.
The crew confirmed the stack would need the attention of a builder when the weather improved.
They cordoned off the area and informed local residents of the potential danger before leaving.
A large sunscreen from the Town Crier on City Road in Chester was removed by firefighters at about 5.15pm after it became unsafe due to the high winds. A cordon was also set up to protect the public.
Western Rural Police, supported by officers from across the county, received over 160 calls of weather-related incidents last night.
PC Dave Walton, of Western Rural Neighbourhood Policing Unit, said: “Officers remained on duty to assist the public with fallen trees, power lines and damage being caused by the winds . “We would like to thank people for their patience during road closures and their assistance in dealing with incidents.
“A great team effort helped ensure that no persons were badly injured.”
Police attended more than 100 calls to fallen trees and storm damage across Chester – but no reports of anti-social behaviour as storm dampens spirits.
Last night Chester Outer Neighbourhood policing unit attended 103 calls to reports of storm damage – over twice the normal emergency calls on a week day.
The A483 Wrexham Road was also blocked by a fallen tree.
Other roads affected by the storm included: Tiverton Close, Chester; Pearl Lane, Vicars Cross; Pipers Lane, Chester; The A540 Parkgate Road; Blacon Point Road, Blacon; and Caughall Road, close to Chester Zoo.
But in Chester city centre police had a relatively quiet night after experiencing no reports of anti-social behaviour in a 24 hour period due to the stormy weather conditions.
Between 7am on Wednesday and 7am today (Thursday) officers at Chester Inner Neighbourhood Policing Unit said they received no reports in their beat, which covers Boughton, Chester and Chester railway station.
Sergeant David Barker said: “We had reports on Nuns Road of something blowing from the racecourse on to the road, but officers who attended didn’t find anything. We often say PC Rain helps us, but last night it was PC Wind.”
Homes without power
Almost six thousand homes in the Chester area are still without power following the severe storm force winds which battered the region last night.
Orchard Residential Park at Elton, which has a number of elderly residents, has been without power since 5pm yesterday. The Council is liaising with Scottish Power to ensure that supplies are restored as early as possible.
Social Care staff responded to a small number of vulnerable people overnight who were affected by power cuts.
Cheshire West and Chester Council are working closely with ScottishPower, who have drafted in almost 100 extra staff to help with the recovery, to remove the trees as soon as the cables have been made safe.
A spokesperson for ScottishPower said: “The biggest issue affecting the electricity network has been uprooted trees and other debris blown on to overhead power lines, which has caused damage and brought down the power lines in some areas. Storm force winds continued in to the evening yesterday causing hazardous working conditions and hampering the recovery operation.
“ScottishPower has cancelled all planned maintenance work, and has drafted in extra engineers and contractors in order to help with the emergency response.
“The company will do all that it can to restore supplies as quickly as possible. However, a number of roads and bridges have been blocked and closed by fallen trees which continue to restrict access in certain locations.
“Engineers worked through the night to restore customers with 450 field staff starting the recovery operation at first light this morning. Up to 100 additional linesmen and engineers from Scotland have been drafted in to assist the recovery."
Council out in force
The predicted storm force winds which hit West Cheshire at rush hour last night brought major delays to traffic as fallen trees hit many roads around the borough, Cheshire West and Chester Council have reported.
Streetscene and Highways staff have been out in force, working with the emergency services clearing trees and debris and responding to reports of about 150 fallen trees across the borough.
Councillor Lynn Riley, Executive Member for Localities, said: “I would like to pay tribute to our Highways and Streetscene teams who worked throughout the night to deal with an unprecedented number of fallen trees.
“The winds were somewhat stronger in West Cheshire than forecast so the damage was more widespread than we had anticipated.
“Despite having to redeploy staff to clearing so many trees, our Highways teams still managed to complete overnight gritting across all the usual routes.
Cllr Riley extended her thanks to the community spirit displayed in the aftermath of the storm.
“I would also like to say a heartfelt thank you to the many local residents who braved the unpleasant conditions to clear debris.
“It is very gratifying to see that community spirit is very much alive and well in West Cheshire.”
Highways staff reported that all the usual routes were to be gritted across Cheshire West and Chester in spite of earlier concerns that they may not have been able to complete their rounds as teams were deployed clearing trees.
Staff worked through the night to help clear debris and fallen trees. Among the roads which were closed for most of the night were Oulton Mill Lane, Kingsley Road and Sapling Lane.
Meanwhile school closures have been confirmed at Tarporley High, Tarporley CE Primary, Farndon Primary, Antrobus St Mark's Primary, Delamere CE Academy and Kelsall Primary. Dorin Park School has closed due to boiler faults.
Helsby High School suffered damage to the roof of one its blocks but it was business as usual for pupils and staff today, with repairs taking place this morning.
Delamere Forest Park is closed until further notice.
Chester FC TV match
A live televised Chester FC match will go ahead despite high winds causing chaos outside the Blues’ football ground.
Last night high winds battered the region causing travel chaos across Chester as trees uprooted across roads, motorways and train lines.
And, just a day before the much-awaited clash between FC Halifax Town, the Blues stadium was left with ‘minor issues’ after the storm brought down TV gantries and sent pitch covers flying over the stands and billowing across the road.
A motorist driving home from work past the Swansway Chester Stadium watched in horror as a tree came crashing down within inches of her car as they turned off Bumpers Lane at 5.30pm.
“There was a big tarp billowing across the road,” said Sam Yarwood, who was driving home from work at the Flintshire Chronicle.
“I let two cars go past, once they came through I went to go round it. It appeared to be stuck in a tree. When I got to the end of the road and went to turn right, a massive tree came crashing down.
“It fell diagonally across the road. Bits of wood were flying everywhere.”
Despite some minor issues at the football ground, Chester FC Club Secretary Calvin Hughes said tonight’s match would be going ahead, and the pitch was ‘firm’ and had ‘dried out really well’ in last night’s high winds.
“We have got a couple of minor issues. BT are televising tonight’s match, one of their gantries on the top of the stands has been blown down,” said Mr Hughes.
“One of the pitch covers blew over the stands and got stuck in one of the trees.”
Mr Hughes, who has been down to the stadium this morning, said the tree had been removed and the pitch was ready for the fans tonight.
“We are fine, we have offers on for the fans tonight, it will help if the weather stays dry,” he said.
The wing-carrying Beluga aircraft was unable to fly in or out of the Airbus factory at Broughton during yesterday’s gale conditions.
Robert Gage, head of media relations at Airbus UK, confirmed the Beluga cannot operate in severe weather – maximum crosswind speeds of 20 knots.
However, he explained that strong winds were not unusual in North Wales so contingency plans were in place for such eventualities, especially given the high-sided nature of the aircraft.
“Inclement weather is taken into account for Beluga scheduling,” said Mr Gage, who explained that the cargo door could not be opened during high winds. He confirmed everything was back to normal today (Thursday).
He added: “Airbus can confirm that there has been some minor damage caused by the weather, namely a small panel on the roof of the West Factory (A380) at Broughton which had become insecure in the high winds. The buildings at Broughton continue to be monitored during this bad weather.”