HARTLEPOOL and East Durham are today starting a clean-up operation after high winds and downpours caused chaos across the region.
Roads were closed by falling trees, dozens of homes were damaged and emergency services and council workers were stretched to the limit to deal with scores of calls.
Council workers, police officers and firefighters were called to scores of incidents across the area including:
• The Headland, where cars were stranded in flooded roads caused by overflow from blocked storm drains - sparking evening rush hour chaos.
• Blakelock Gardens, in Hartlepool, which was blocked and shut due to a fallen tree;
• Hereford Terrace, in Billingham, where a tree was blown onto a van;
• Horse Close Lane, in Trimdon Colliery, which was blocked due to a fallen tree;
• Newburn Bridge, in Hartlepool, where a lamppost was blown over and had to be removed;
• Elwick Road, in Hartlepool, where a tree blew down;
• Mary Street, near to Powlett Road, Hartlepool, where some scaffolding toppled over;
• Nine Acres, in Hart Village, Hartlepool, which lost several power cables through the winds, leaving many residents without power;
• Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park ground, where a flag pole toppled over.
The battering winds also caused chaos in other parts of the town with a section of Stockton Road being closed, from Westbourne Road to the Burn Valley roundabout, due to a fallen chimney stack.
Police briefly closed the A19 flyover to high-sided vehicles as it is deemed that it is too unsafe for them to cross.
There were constant warnings throughout telling motorists to drive with caution.
By mid-afternoon, Met Office experts placed Hartlepool on an amber alert as the stormy weather continued to batter the town gusts of up to 60mph.
A spokeswoman for the Met Office said the amber alert was issued to warn residents of possible travel delays, road and rail closures, and to be prepared to change plans.
A HM Coastguard spokesman urged the skippers of small vessels not to head out to sea and also warned people to steer clear of promenades and piers.
He said: “There have been gale warnings given by the Met Office and vessels, especially smaller ones, should not head out in these conditions and should wait for the bad weather to pass.
“People should also keep away from the shoreline as people have been washed off promenades and piers and into the sea and been lost before.”
Mail readers sent us pictures of damage caused.
Sammi Morgan and Keith Reay tweeted us photos from High Tunstall College and the chimney stack, while others emailed us similar scenes from elsewhere across town.
• HAVE you been affected by the conditions? Let us know and send us your photos. Ring (01429) 239380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org