Flooding in North East prompts evacuations and power cuts

Angel View, Benwell Lightning struck this roof's solar panel sparking a blaze

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Homes are being evacuated and thousands are without power as torrential rain caused flooding across the North East.

Monsoon-like deluges hit the region and the Environment Agency warned many rivers could burst their banks.

Police said flood-hit homes in Felling, Gateshead, and Lanchester, County Durham, were being evacuated.

Several lightning storms also struck - firefighters are tackling a house fire in Angel View, Benwell, caused by lightning striking a solar panel.

Northern Powergrid said about 23,000 customers across the North East were experiencing power cuts caused by lightning strikes.

Areas affected include Whitley Bay and Shiremoor on North Tyneside, Prudhoe in Northumberland and Consett in Durham.

A spokesman for the power firm said: "Flash flooding is making access to some substations and power lines difficult at present but we are committed to restoring supplies to customers as soon as possible."

Some Metro services on Tyneside were also cancelled.

'Car wash'

Northumbria Police urged the residents of badly waterlogged properties in Eastwood Gardens, Felling, to stay in their homes until help arrived.

Walkergate Metro Station Walkergate Metro Station in Newcastle was under several feet of water

There was also widespread disruption on rail services and roads, with many routes under several inches of water. A number were closed, including the A69 at Acomb and the Felling bypass.

Maggie Cottier, of Killingworth, said: "Thunder directly overhead, long loud cracks and immediate lightning, my house feels as though it is in a car wash."

The Tyne Tunnel was also closed northbound due to flooding and the southbound route is down to one lane.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency warned that because of the unpredictable nature of thunderstorms it would be hard to predict where river levels would rise.

Northern Rail also said there were delays of up to 45 minutes between Newcastle and Carlisle due to flooding at Haltwhistle.

The National Rail Enquiries Twitter feed reported: "Flooding and landslips are causing heavy delays on routes between Northern England and Scotland, with very limited travel options."

'Pool contaminated'

A mud landslide on to Metro tracks at Felling due to heavy downpours forced Nexus to suspend services between Gateshead Stadium and Heworth station.

The Hoppings funfair in Newcastle was closed. It had already lost three days' trade after it was forced to shut from Friday to Sunday because of torrential downpours.

Whitley Bay Monsoon-like deluges caused flash flooding in Whitley Bay

Meanwhile, councils and the emergency services dealt with hundreds of calls from members of the public concerned that water was getting into their homes.

Several public buildings were also shut, including the swimming pool at the Lakeside Centre in Killingworth, after rainwater leaked into the building.

A spokesman said: "Rainwater has entered the pool, contaminating the water. The pool will remain closed until it is deep-cleaned to ensure it is safe for customers."

The Oxford Centre, Forest Hall Library and Wallsend Library also closed.

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