Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

Gale-force storms result in chaos

Cars hit by trees at Elfordleigh Hotel, near Plymouth
Gales of up to 80mph overnight brought down trees in the South West

Heavy rain and severe gales have lashed the South West overnight, causing chaos for many parts of Devon and Cornwall.

The storms, which whipped up on Friday afternoon, led to flooding and roofs being blown off properties and trees being uprooted.

Fire services were called out to a number of incidents where power cables had come down or were arcing.

A navy rescue helicopter was sent out earlier to airlift an injured surfer to hospital from Pentewan beach, Cornwall.

During the height of the gales winds of up to 70mph (113km/h) miles were recorded in Brixham, Devon.

It was pretty wild out there - I've never seen anything like it
Julie Smith, Elfordleigh Hotel

On Friday afternoon the Tamar bridge was shut to high-sided vehicles, motorbikes, caravans and push bikes.

Western Power Distribution said that at one point on Friday about 8,000 properties in Devon and 2,000 properties in Cornwall were without electricity supply.

However, engineers worked through the night to restore power and continued throughout the day to bring supplies back to affected properties.

Flood warnings

A number of cars were crushed by trees which came down in the car park at Elfordleigh Hotel in Plympton, on the outskirts of Plymouth, on Friday at about 1830 GMT.

Julie Smith, front of house manager, said: "It was pretty wild out there - I've never seen anything like it.

During the storms waves topped the breakwater at Mountbatten, Plymouth

"There was a man in one of the cars next to the one which got totally crushed by the trees. He was helped out of his vehicle by one of the leisure club members.

"Another tree came down by the golf driving range. "

Staff at Mayflower Marina in Devonport battled for a number of hours to upturn part of a wooden pontoon which had become trapped on sunken columns that anchor it after having been twisted by the wind and waves.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were called out to numerous incidents and had to secure a canopy at a petrol station in Plymstock as well as part of the roof at the Odeon Cinema in Exeter.

Staff from Devon County Council and the Highways Agency also worked through the night to deal with more than 100 incidents, including vehicle collisions, motorists hitting fallen trees and people getting stuck in flood water.

Following the storms, Cornwall Council advised people not to use the section of the Camel Trail, between Wadebridge and Wenford Bridge, over the weekend because of falling trees.

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