Teesside and County Durham flooding: police warn motorists

A bungalow in Hartburn, Stockton
Image caption A street in Hartburn in Stockton was flooded

Families were evacuated from their homes and schools closed on Tuesday as heavy rain battered Teesside and County Durham.

Flooding caused widespread travel disruption as roads closed and rail services were cancelled or severely delayed.

Houses were evacuated in Hartburn, Stockton, and Cleveland Police declared a "major incident".

Durham Police asked employers to allow staff to leave work early.

A weather station in Bishop Auckland recorded a month-and-a-half's worth of rain in just over a day.

The Hartburn area was among the worst affected and residents including a 95-year-old man had to be rescued from their homes by boat.

Another man, Bernard Hutchinson, only moved into his house last week.

He said: "The back garden is under about 3ft of water and the front is starting to build up now.

"I've always wanted to live next to a lake and now I've got one."

'Could get worse'

Chris Edmunds from Hartburn said he and his partner had lost everything as they had no insurance.

"We're about a foot under water," he said.

"My girlfriend had a heart attack yesterday. She's in hospital and doesn't know anything about this."

Image caption Lustrum Beck flooded nearby areas

Jim Wilson, whose house is close to Lustrum Beck, said water levels were worse than in 2002 when he said rainfall levels were described as "once in 200 years".

"It's total wipe out," he added.

Residents hit by flooding were taken to the Splash Leisure Centre in Stockton.

Cleveland Fire Brigade station manager Bob Robson said the situation could get worse before it got better.

Cleveland Police took dozens of calls from worried homeowners requesting sandbags and had to direct callers to local DIY stores.

Ch Supt Michael Hartnack told the BBC he expected the worst weather to hit Teesside at about 22:00 BST on Tuesday.

He said: "The situation could change however, very quickly.

Image caption Flooding closed the East Coast mainline south of Darlington

"We're expecting short, sharp showers which could result in a lot of surface water in a short space of time.

"I would very much stress the need for motorists to take care when passing through flooded roads."

Stockton Council closed its schools on Tuesday afternoon but expected them to reopen on Wednesday.

In a statement, the authority said: "Parents whose children attend schools in the south of the borough should be aware that conditions at Leven Bridge will be inspected between 7am and 7.30am tomorrow morning which may affect schools in that area."

The council asked people living and working in Stockton to stay at home or, if travel was a necessity, to avoid peak times.

Road closures

Persistent heavy showers throughout Tuesday led to travel disruption.

Police said more than 100 passengers were stuck on a train early on Tuesday in Billingham as a result of power failure.

Several roads around the area were closed, including the A1, which remains closed between junctions 49 and 60.

Image caption Middlesbrough Football Club's training pitches were hit

The East Coast mainline was badly affected with a long closure in place between Darlington and York. A restricted service began running at around 17:00 BST.

Motorists were advised to avoid going into Yarm town centre as a burst drain is causing traffic congestion and police are turning vehicles back.

Wednesday's meeting at Redcar racecourse has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Flooding from the River Tees hit Middlesbrough Football Club's training ground in Hurworth near Darlington.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites