Homes across the coast left ‘devastated’

A bus shelter is removed on the promenade at Bispham.

A bus shelter is removed on the promenade at Bispham.

The Fylde coast is today facing a multi-million pound repair bill after winds wreaked “total devastation”, leaving a restaurant completely ruined and a teenage girl just seconds from disaster as her bathroom ceiling caved in.

The Fylde coast is today facing a multi-million pound repair bill after winds wreaked “total devastation”, leaving a restaurant completely ruined and a teenage girl just seconds from disaster as her bathroom ceiling caved in.

Elsewhere cars were severely damaged, roofs ripped from buildings and huge trees felled by the storm which lashed the coast with winds topping 90mph.

Today, homeowners and business bosses were left to count the mounting cost of the havoc left in the wake of Wednesday night’s storm.

Nowhere was worse hit than the Beach House restaurant, on the Promenade, which was left gutted after the gales smashed their way through a window to destroy everything inside.

Owner Hagop Tchobanian today told The Gazette he was left speechless when he first set eyes on the damage.

He said: “It’s total devastation to be truthful.

“The place is completely ruined and obviously it’s going to take a while to get it done properly.

“One of the windows came through which took part of the lighting system and furniture, and the sea water came in as well.

Mr Tchobanian was driving staff home after closing the restaurant early on Wednesday evening due to the bad conditions when he received a phone call telling him of the damage.

He said: “I thought it was a joke at the beginning, it was absolutely awful. It was speechless. It’s devastating with what we’ve done and what we’ve spent, in a split second it just all goes down the drain.”

The restaurant was already fully booked for Valentine’s Day and tomorrow night. Mr Tchobanian has already arranged for a “pop up” Beach House in the director’s box at Bloomfield Road stadium as a replacement venue so diners can still enjoy their evening.

And he has also vowed to get the restaurant back on its feet as soon as possible.

He added: “We’re just in the middle of trying to get things sorted out. I honestly don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

The adjacent Festival House also lost one of its windows in the storm, although wedding services at the venue are unaffected.

Elsewhere in Shaftesbury Avenue, North Shore, 19-year-old Jessica Hanlon had a lucky escape after the ceiling of her bathroom caved in just seconds after she had been inside it. Her father Lawrence, 56, said: “She’d been in the bathroom one minute before the crash. If she’d have been in there when it came in God knows what could have happened. It was nightmare scenario.”

The damage is expected to run to millions of pounds.

Geoff Williams, director at Cherry and Griffiths loss assessors, based in Manchester, said just one roof being blown off could run up costs of £50-100,000. Among the other problems caused by the storm, three cars were badly damaged after a roof blew off the J-MAX building on Amy Johnson Way and landed on them.

A section of the roof ended up 100 yards down the road with roof insulation strewn across the carriageway.

In Grange Park a 30ft tree which has stood in William Topping’s garden for 30 years also became a victim of the gale force winds.

The tree came crashing down into Mr Topping’s Dinmore Avenue garden, but his home was unscathed.

North Pier was also hit by damage – with glass smashing in its Sun Lounge, seaward facing walling damaged and damage to the roof of the arcade. Owners are now facing another clean-up there just a month after it was left severely damaged by stormy weather which hit Blackpool in January.

Dominic Herdman, pier manager, said: “We’re prioritising first health and safety, making it secure for people to be working on the pier.

“We still can’t allow the general public on the pier, it’s going to be some time before that happens. Then we will look at which parts of the pier we can open in time for the summer season.”

Meanwhile, Blackpool Model Village will not open during half-term after the storm brought down five trees at the site. However, damage was kept to a minimum with only the car show room damaged.

Tree surgeons are working to remove the 40ft trees from the West Park Drive attraction to re-open it as soon as possible.

A number of trees in neighbouring Stanley Park were also secured by tree surgeons after working overnight to stop them from falling.

South Shore Academy (formerly Palatine High School) and Fleetwood’s Charles Saer Community Primary School were closed yesterday because of the storm’s aftermath.

Trees are down and roof panels sprayed across the grounds at Charles Saer. The school is open again as normal today, but South Shore Academy will now be closed until after half-term. Travel across the coast was also hit, with morning passengers handed delays of up to 20 minutes on trains between Blackpool North and Preston after the Carleton crossing was damaged by high winds.

However, services were back to normal by yesterday afternoon.

Blackpool Transport services 2/2C and service 11 were unable to serve the Deansgate stop due to nearby damage to buildings and were diverted via Cookson Street instead.

There were delays on the motorways too after the southbound sliproad leading from the M6 to the M55 was closed after the barriers were damaged, but was reopened by early afternoon.

Fire and police tried to help those caught in storm

Police in Western Division, which covers the aFylde coast, were called out 110 incidents related to the weather on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, of which 83 were due to problems on the roads.

People were evacuated from Pembroke Court flats, in North Shore, and had to be rehoused after the roof was damaged by the winds.

Gerry Townson, secretary of Devonshire Court Ltd, which runs the building, said: “There’s debris everywhere, it’s an absolute mess.”

Yeadon Way petrol station roof started ripping off and caused disruption to Yeadon Way itself, while trees and telephone posts fell into the roads and cables were also left hanging down.

Blackpool Tower lost several large windows from Jungle Jims, while South Shore Police Station lost roof tiles causing damage to a police vehicle.

Watch manager Patrick Thompson, of Blackpool fire station, said the night crew had been called out non-stop from 5pm on Wednesday until 7am yesterday with more calls continuing after that.

He said: “The calls have been mostly to structural damage - we have had gable ends come down, loose signage, structures over-hanging, and we have attended where there is a danger to the public.

“We are getting more calls today as people survey the damage in the light of day.

“If people are out today they need to keep their eyes peeled for any loose pieces of structure.

“Move any bits of loose garden furniture and bins.

“Drivers should look out for debris on the road, make extra time for journeys and slow down.”

Across Lancashire, fire and rescue service bosses said they had taken more than 300 calls on Wednesday evening, most of them on the coast.

Weather experts at the Met Office say after the chaos of the past two days, the Fylde coast is now in for a brighter weekend.

Winds of around 40mph are expected today, which will decrease over the weekend, with conditions expected to brighten up by Sunday.

Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said: “It’ll be nothing compared to what you saw over the past couple of days.”

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