The A1 northbound at Tritlington in Northumberland was also shut because of water running on to the road.
Among the areas worst hit by flooding were Morpeth, Durham, Rothbury, Chester-le-Street and Stockton-on-Tees. Some 19 elderly residents at a council care home in Gilling West, North Yorkshire, had to be carried to safety by firefighters after it became swamped by 3 feet of water.
Travel disruption was caused in Scotland by heavy rain and winds of up to 70 mph.
Cleveland Police declared a major incident due to weather conditions, with around 29 properties in Stockton evacuated by the emergency services as water levels rose to around 4 feet.
In Morpeth, Northumberland, homes were evacuated and about 40 residents rescued by fire services after the River Wansbeck burst its banks.
Heavy rains sent cars careering down the River Coquet and homes were flooded in Rothbury, Northumberland.
Emergency services evacuated around 30 properties in Hartburn, Stockton, Teesside.
About 50 properties in and around Wearside were evacuated.
Heavy rain and severe winds caused power cuts and travel problems and swept sand-filled foam into parts of Scotland.
Floods in Bristol caused one of the country's biggest blood and plasma banks to close, with thousands of units transferred to other centres by refrigerated lorries.
Train services in northern England were affected by flooding. The East Coast mainline has reopened but with a limited service.
Power was turned off to almost 40 homes in Merseyside as a precaution following flooding.
Roads in north Wales remained closed after flooding and there was flood-related disruption to Arriva Trains Wales services.
Trains between Great Malvern and Hereford remained cancelled after a "very deep hole" was found following heavy rain.
A crew of refuse collectors had to be rescued by firefighters at Eryholme, North Yorkshire, when a river burst its banks and swamped their truck.
A modern block of flats was evacuated in Newburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, after fears its foundations were being washed away.
Schools in some areas were advised to close early, employers were urged to send staff home early and commuters were asked to stagger their journeys to alleviate problems on the struggling transport network (Hundreds of homes flooded, 2012, p. 2).
Analysis. On the one hand, engineers routinely plan for "once-in-ten-year" storms. On the other hand, though, the storm system that caused the flooding in late September 2012 in North East England was unprecedented in the scope of its damage and the disruption and economic loss associated with this disaster were the worst these communities have experienced for at least 30 years. Nevertheless, a consistent theme that emerged from the research was the predictability of the structural damage caused by these flood waters, and based on climate change patterns, it is reasonable to assume that storms of this severity will become increasingly commonplace in the future making the need for preparation today more important than ever, and these issues are discussed further below.
There are some man-made solutions to natural disasters such as the recent storm that hit North East England in late September 2012. Engineers today have a vast array of powerful computer-based modeling tools that can be applied to the circumstances in the regions most heavily hit by the storm's floodwaters, but time is of the essence in preventing future calamities of this magnitude. In this regard, Reaney and Cherry emphasize that:
As the North East recovers from yet another flood event there is much to reflect upon in terms of not only engineering new ways to mitigate flood risk and bringing parts of the A1 and local flood defences up-to-date for example, but also looking at methods of preparing for flood events more effectively that includes everyone involved from councils, volunteers and local communities to national government, NGOs and universities. (2012, p. 4)
Finally, it is clear that residents in communities that were most adversely affected by the floodwaters must take action themselves to coordinate remediation at the local level where residents' interests can be taken into account. As Reaney and Cherry conclude, "Top-down approaches to alleviate flooding, while successful at times in treating the symptoms of the problem, tend not to address the much larger issues of coordination and foresight needed in dealing with large flood hazards that can very easily turn into disaster" (2012, p. 4).
Recommendations for Further Work
Complex problems require complex solutions, and the research showed that this is certainly the case in formulating timely and effective responses to the engineering needs of the communities that were devastated by the storm that hit North East England in last September 2012. Not only will this require a coordinated and multidisciplinary response that actively involves all of the community stakeholders, these responses are going to be expensive. Given the densely populated regions that these floodwaters affected, though, further work towards developing preventive steps today will go a long way towards mitigating the damages of future storms of this magnitude.
Burney, D.M., Simmonds, K. & Queeley, G. (2007, Summer). 'The Relationship between Socio-
Economic Conditions and the Impact of Natural Disasters on Rural and Urbanized
Regions Level of Preparedness and Recovery.' Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, pp. 37-39.
Carter, H. (2012, September 28). 'Flooding leaves homes facing demolition in north-east
England.' The Guardian. [online] available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/