Tyne & Wear

Flooding: North East hit by travel disruption

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Media captionHomes were evacuated and thousands have been without power as torrential rain caused flooding across the North East.

Schools were closed, rail services were cancelled and many homes remain without power after storms caused flooding across the north east of England.

Northern Powergrid said 2,450 properties were still without power after lightning strikes hit cables or sub-stations flooded.

Dozens of schools were closed, with many likely to remain so for days.

The deluge hit the region on Thursday, causing travel chaos for drivers and rail passengers.

Emergencies services dealt with more than 1,500 calls in Tyne and Wear.

Police and firefighters also worked through the night to rescue many people stranded in their cars in gridlocked traffic.

Image caption At the height of the storms the emergency services dealt with 1,500 calls

A landslide near Berwick at Spittal shut the rail line between Berwick and Newcastle for a time, but an hourly service is now running.

Metro operator Nexus said trains were running in most areas throughout the Tyne and Wear network on Friday morning, but only every 20 minutes.

But there are no trains running between Benton and Monkseaton in North Tyneside, and a replacement bus service in operation.

A spokesman said a 100m stretch of wall between Felling and Heworth fell on to the tracks on Thursday evening halting the service.

He said: "At one stage we had our workers clearing debris with their bare hands - they made astonishing progress."

Areas hit by power cuts included Whitley Bay and Shiremoor on North Tyneside, Alniwck and Prudhoe in Northumberland, and Stanhope and Consett in County Durham, with at one time 50,000 properties affected.

'Saw flames'

Northern Powergrid said on Friday afternoon that it had cancelled all planned engineering work and staff had been redeployed to ensure that supplies to customers still without power could be restored as soon as possible.

Image caption Metro workers used their bare hands to clear bricks from the track

It added: "We would like to thank all our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience they are experiencing."

The spokesman also said the company hoped to have power for the rest of the houses by the end of the day.

On Thursday, firefighters were called to a house fire in Angel View, Benwell, caused by lightning striking a solar panel.

The smoke then spread through the lofts of five houses, causing damage in some of the homes.

Neighbour Lorna Fraser said: "We saw the flames coming off the top of the house - then the fire brigade tried to get into the house.

"Upstairs the walls are black. My furniture is all right but other than that, everything just stinks. All of the smoke damage has gone through the lofts of five houses."

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

North Tyneside was one of the worst affected areas with about 200 homes flooded after more than the average amount of rainfall for June fell in two hours.

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Media captionAilsa from Gateshead: 'Water poured through the doors, but no one was hurt'

Ailsa Stothard, a British Red Cross worker from Gateshead, said: "I was at work at the time but my partner Bob was here and he said it happened in about 45 minutes of it being a manageable amount of water to just pouring through the doors up to the windows.

"At the moment we don't know if we're going to be able to stay in the property or not, we're just waiting to find out.

"My attitude is nobody was hurt, things are wet, things dry out, we just muck in and get on with it."

Durham County Council said many of its staff were out with shovels and brushes in Chester-le-Street and Lanchester getting rid of debris and excess water in the streets.

The Environment Agency said two flood warnings at River Ouse Burn and Lower River Wear had been downgraded to alerts.

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