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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK
Gales and high tides batter coast
A giant wave hits the South Cornwall Seaside town of Portmellon
A giant wave hits the South Cornwall town of Portmellon
Coastal towns and villages across the South West are enduring a second day of destruction caused by 75mph gales and unusually high tides.

In Torbay, it has been described as a "once-in-25-years" storm by the Environment Agency.

People on the south coast of Devon and Cornwall are being told by the agency to keep on their guard because there could be further problems on Thursday.

A severe flood warning has been issued from Land's End to Lyme Regis.

We're saying to people to keep away from the sea
Paul Saddler, Environment Agency
Coastguards stations at Falmouth in Cornwall and Brixham in Devon deployed 16 rescue teams overnight to help other emergency services.

High tide came at about 0630 BST in south Devon on Thursday, causing the flooding of some properties in Dartmouth and tearing up roads on Teignmouth sea front.

Coastal roads on the sea front at Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Preston were all closed, and cars were floating in the deep water as the tide rose.

Malcolm Webley, assistant director of Highways and Street Services for Torbay Council, said: "We had a situation where the sea was overtopping the sea defence walls, and conditions were so severe that we saw lots of rocks coming from the beaches onto the highway.

A vehicle in the floods
Some vehicles were washed away by flooding
"Any roads that have been closed are so unsafe that people could be at risk if they use them."

More than 150 train passengers were stuck for three hours on board two Virgin trains at Dawlish. They broke down after being lashed by sea water.

Teams from Network Rail have been assessing the damage on Thursday and services remain severly disrupted.

Replacement bus services are operating between Newton Abbott and Exeter St Davids and St Erth and Penzance.

Closed off

It is possible the Newton Abbot line may reopen on Friday afternoon but until then the region has no direct rail service to London.

In Cornwall, emergency services had to evacuate scores of people from their homes in Flushing, near Falmouth, and Looe as gales pushed the high tide over sea defences. Police closed off Looe town centre.

Flushing resident Alan Barryman said high water levels could be common in the area, but that the weather, which caused water to be knee-high in places, took many by surprise.

He said: "It's been 30 years since it was last that height. Despite the forecasts, I don't think the majority of people thought it would be as bad as it was last night."

Further west, part of the sea wall at Penzance collapsed and, inland, power lines and trees were brought down by winds.

Flooded lifeboat station

But Devon and Cornwall Police said that although they were alerted to many incidents of flooding and property damage throughout the evening, there were no reported injuries.

On the Isles of Scilly, the fire brigade is making checks around the coastline.

Alex Deakin, from the BBC Weather Centre, said: "Thursday's winds shouldn't be quite as strong as Wednesday's, but we'll have probably more rain and, yet again, very high tides; the combination of which means we'll probably see more flooding."

Environment Agency Flood Warning Officer Paul Saddler said: "Tonight's tides are of greater concern than this morning's. The winds will be back up to Force 6, 7 or 8.

"We're saying to people to keep away from the sea in these conditions."

Coastguards also said people should stay away from the sea, adding they were frustrated at people going to out to "wave dodge" during bad weather.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Looe Coastguards keep people from dangerous tides



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Glasgow Evening Times Wave swamps train as gales hit south - 21 hrs ago
Daily Mail Clean-up after storms batter coast - 27 hrs ago
The Sun 80mph gales lash coast - 33 hrs ago
TelegraphStorms cause havoc on coast - 34 hrs ago
Sky News South Coast Storms Cause Travel Chaos - 36 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
Storms sandbags were 'too late'
28 Oct 04  |  Cornwall
Floods cause town centre closure
28 Oct 04  |  Cornwall
Gusty winds batter south coast
28 Oct 04  |  Dorset
Storms batter Cornish coastline
27 Oct 04  |  Devon


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