Mother and baby escape falling tree in storms
By Western Morning News | Monday, April 30, 2012, 08:00
A storm driven by howling gale force winds brought down well over 100 trees across the Westcountry, yesterday (sun) including one which smashed through the wall of a family home.
The winds caused thousands of pounds of damage to shelters at the Woodside Animal Shelter in Plymouth, where pigs, horses and Rambo the goat – pictured with helper Jason Beaver – were shaken but unharmed when their homes were destroyed picture: JOHN ALLEN
The weather didn't spoil the festivities at the 150th anniversary of Lukesland Gardens. Owner John Howell is pictured dancing with guest Sue Siddalls while Adrianne Reedthomas provides some shelter
A father and son brave the weather on the seafront at Sidmouth, Devon, as torrential rain and gales batter the coast
Toni Hoare with five-month-old daughter Winnie in front of the fallen tree that damaged their house as they slept. The weekend storm caused damage all across the Westcountry picture: John Allen
Traffic was disrupted as authorities worked hard to respond to a number of cases of trees smashing onto roads across Devon and Cornwall. Power cuts were also reported with a total of 2,000 properties in the South West affected.
In Plympton, near Plymouth, a mother and her five-month-old baby were "lucky to be alive" after a 70-foot tree crashed into their home.
Mother-of-three Toni Hoare heard a "noise like a car crashing" at around 5.30am yesterday. Several tonnes of beech tree, thought to be around 300 years old, fell against the family's home in Dark Street Lane, putting five holes in the roof above Mrs Hoare's bedroom.
"I thought the whole house was falling down," said Mrs Hoare. Her husband Steven and their other two children, Lola, four, and Isabelle, three, were away for the weekend.
"I was shaking for about an hour with the shock and the enormity of it all. We're lucky to be alive."
Mr Hoare said: "If it was a few more degrees it would have come down right on the house. Toni and Winnie could have been crushed. It makes you realise all the damage is immaterial compared to what could have happened. It's a real relief we were all ok."
The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it had been "busy" throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning with numerous calls reporting trees down and electrical cables in the road or across people's properties.
In Torre, Torquay, one woman reported water pouring through her ceiling and was assisted by the fire service.
The North Devon link road was closed for an hour yesterday morning, after four trees fell. Hugh Griffith, highways operations control centre manager at Devon County Council, said trees continued to fall as workers were removing others. "The trees that have come down have mostly been large. Many of them are on small lanes, and may not have been reported to us yet. All drivers should expect the unexpected," he said.
And in Cornwall, fallen trees were reported at Lanner, near Redruth, on the A39 outside Polwhele School in Truro; one close to the Probus roundabout and between Lostwithiel and Respryn Bridge.
Dartmoor Zoo closed yesterday for reasons of "safety and animal welfare". A spokesman said "animals will be in their houses for the duration of the bad weather".
Last night, the Met Office's yellow warning, the third highest alert, was still in place, and the Environment Agency had a flood warning in force for the River Yarty, near Axminster in East Devon. The lesser level of flood alert was in place in 22 waterways across the South West, including those across Devon.
Met Office forecaster Tom Morgan said most areas saw up to 20mm of rain yesterday, with 30mm falling on Dartmoor. Winds have typically reached 50 miles per hour, with western Cornwall recording a peak of 60.
But Mr Morgan said it was the unusual easterly winds which had caused the most damage, with trees growing used to the more normal south westerly gusts and bending accordingly.
Mr Morgan said conditions would remain unsettled, with each day of next week seeing "some rain". But the environmental drought is expected to stay in place throughout the summer.
"It's all very useful rain in that sense, but it will take several months of rain as heavy as we have seen to completely reverse the drought situation.
Supt Craig Downham, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "Right across the two counties we have had a busy time through the night with a number of trees down.
"We haven't had the flooding that we were anticipating earlier on in the week, it has been mainly the wind and trees coming down leaving debris in the roads and taking down power lines.
"The local authorities are doing their best.""