Disruption continues across South Tyneside as a result of Storm Arwen. Heavy winds and extreme weather conditions have disrupted transport and caused tree and structural damage with conditions expected to worsen.
Incidents can be reported on two out of hours emergency phone numbers:
0191 455 6111 - South Tyneside Council
0300 123 6633 - South Tyneside Homes
The Council's first priority is the protection of life, including that of staff and contractors working at the scene. Secondly, the protection of property and assets will be prioritised.
There are a number of road closures in place across South Tyneside. These are necessary to address significant safety concerns, especially at the coast and to allow the clean-up of debris and to limit through traffic. Diversions are in place with local access permitted.
Teams from across South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes continue to be out on the ground responding to incidents caused by the storm, working in an extremely challenging environment. In some cases, work cannot begin on the clean-up of certain sites due to continued high winds and a dangerous working environment.
There is an ongoing process of prioritisation that is dynamic and ever changing. The situation is being monitored across the entire borough and teams deployed on the basis of protection to life and then protection to assets thereafter.
Weather warnings remain in place across our region for ice, coastal flooding and winds of 50 - 60mph. Red warnings mean there could be danger to life, damage to property, travel and power disruption, and dangerous seas. Amber and yellow warnings for wind will remain in place and a separate yellow ice warning has also been issued overnight into Sunday. Unfortunately, this will all obstruct the clean-up operation.
Gritting operations will focus on major roads, bus routes and steep banks as well as priority footpaths in shopping areas, around schools and on steps and footbridges with pre-gritting taking place on priority routes as and when the temperature drops. Gritting the Borough's 311km of priority routes takes around 2.5 hours to complete.
Police have warned people not to travel in areas covered by a Met Office red warning, which includes South Tyneside. Motorists are advised to take greater care than normal in winter driving conditions if they must travel and to check the local weather forecasts and information websites.
Roads and the rail network are expected to see further disruption.
As the storm continues people are reminded to protect themselves and others:
Only make essential journeys and stay home wherever possible. If you do need to go out then take care, remain vigilant and stay safe.
Do not travel to coastal areas to observe high tides, it risks putting themselves and others in danger. Coastal car parks have been closed as a precaution.
Avoid walking near trees as they pose a threat to passers-by.
Storm Arwen is an unprecedented weather event. Teams will focus on major issues and ensuring that roads and footpaths are clear for the emergency services. Unless there is a danger to the public or passers by residents are advised to liaise with their insurance on more minor issues.
The Council responds wherever there is a report of a fallen tree or branch obstructing or preventing safe use of roads. This is regardless of whether the tree is located on privately owned or council property as the priority is to clear the highway and make it safe.
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: "First and foremost, we understand there has been no injury or loss of life for which we are incredibly thankful. The clean-up operation is ongoing and may take some days to complete. People are advised to contact us to report emergency incidents. Please be patient and understand that response times to calls will take longer than usual. Our teams are working around the clock to keep the borough moving and respond to any incidents caused by the extreme weather conditions.
"Main roads, footpaths and emergency routes take priority. Damage to properties that can cause further damage will be dealt with first, other lower risk incidents will be dealt as soon as is practical, which may take into early next week."
Council staff are on call 24 hours per day 365 days per year to respond to emergencies received out of normal office hours.