Storm Arwen UPDATE: Schools closed on Monday, 163 fallen tree reports and 58,000 people without power - the latest on South Tyneside's clean-up operation
A major clean-up operation is underway in South Tyneside after Storm Arwen – with the scale of the damage caused revealed by South Tyneside Council.
On Sunday evening, the local authority delivered an update on its round-the-clock operation to help the borough recover from the battering it took overnight from Friday to Saturday before more icy conditions took over on Sunday.
The council said an “unprecedented number of trees” had blown down and had taken calls relating to 163 locations – both council and privately-owned - across the borough.
So far, 60 trees have been removed or made safe and 80 on-site assessments in the high priority category have been completed with more to follow. Extra contractors will be brought in from Monday to target cemeteries and parks.
In addition, the council and South Tyneside Homes have also received 45 reports of structural damage to properties.
Haven Point leisure centre in South Shields is closed due to storm damage and is expected to remain so for some time. Trow Quarry car park is also closed, due to ice and an accumulation of sand on the access road.
A number of road closures remain in place across the borough, including at Station Road, East Boldon, which requires the assessment of live electricity cables by Northern Powergrid, who are prioritising 58,000 residents who are still without power.
Gritting operations are also ongoing, focusing on major roads, bus routes and steep banks as well as priority footpaths in shopping areas, around schools and on steps and footbridges with pre-gritting taking place on priority routes as and when the temperature drops. A new, live interactive gritting map can be viewed at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/gritting
The council also said all schools are assessing their sites. St Matthew's RC Primary School, Jarrow, and West Boldon School have confirmed they will be closed on Monday while. Ashley Primary School in South Shields will have a partial school closure affecting only the Child Development Centre. Updates will be posted on the council website at www.southyneside.gov.uk/schoolclosures
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “Crews have been working round the clock and have made significant progress, but the storm has had a major impact on the borough and there is still a lot more to be done.
“We’re monitoring the situation and continue to respond to incidents on a priority basis. Over the coming days, teams will be able to start clearing more debris and looking at minor works. In the meantime, people should be cautious, particularly children in areas like our parks where there could be fallen trees and branches.
“Although the wind has subsided, we are currently experiencing a cold snap and temperatures are expected to be below freezing again overnight.
“Where possible, we’d advise people to stay at home, but if out and about, we’d urge people to take care, as it may be slippery.
“We’d also encourage residents to look out for each other, checking in on neighbours, elderly or vulnerable people if they can.
"Emergency incidents should still be reported on the out of hours phone lines. Please be patient and understand that response times to calls will take longer than usual.”
Incidents can be reported on two out of hours emergency phone numbers:
0191 455 6111 - South Tyneside Council
0300 123 6633 - South Tyneside Homes