Storm Desmond batters the North East - gale-force winds followed by floods

Parts of the North East have hit by serious flooding today as heavy rain and strong winds from Storm Desmond continue to batter the country.

The Met Office issued an amber "be prepared" warning for rain in places for today and early tomorrow across parts of the North East, with up to 200mm of rain likely to fall on high ground.

Highways England issued a severe weather alert for high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes, which are advised to take extra care, due to the risk of being blown over.

Overnight, there was some disruption and a lot of wind damage was reported due to winds of up to 70mph.

The A66 was closed to high-sided and vulnerable vehicles between the junctions of the A67 near Bowes in County Durham and the A685 at Brough in Cumbria.

On Teesside, the A19 Tees Viaduct in Middlesbrough is closed to high-sided and vulnerable vehicles in both directions between the A66 and A1046, with local diversions in place.

Two cars were damaged when this gable end wall fell down in Princess Road, Seaham. Pic: Kevin Brady.

Two cars were damaged when this gable end wall fell down in Princess Road, Seaham. Pic: Kevin Brady.

In Northumberland, parts of the A69 were closed due to flooding as rivers burst their banks in several places.

In Seaham, firefighters were called to make the gable end of a house safe after it was damaged by the wind. The occupants were evacuated and the area cordoned off.

A crew from Marley Park fire station in Sunderland attended and made safe a roof in a dangerous condition in Fulwell, while a crew from Washington did the same at a property in the Sulgrave area. Washington crews also attended a block of garages in the Glebe area where the roof had blown off.

Sunderland Central firefighters were called out to Canon Cockin Street in Hendon at 7.45pm last night, where the gable end of a cottage had come down.

This Seaham street is cordoned off after the gable end collapsed.

This Seaham street is cordoned off after the gable end collapsed.

This morning, a fire crew from Farringdon dealt with a roof in a dangerous condition due to high winds in the Penshaw area, while a Marley Park crew were called out to make metal cladding on a building safe in Fulwell.

Firefighters also had to remove a tree which had blown onto a house in the Hylton Road area of Sunderland.

In South Shields, firefighters were called out to make safe tile guttering at two properties in Biddick Hall, while a crew from Hebburn were called out to Jarrow, to make safe scaffolding left in dangerous condition by the high winds. At St Bede's in East Boldon, a tree was blown down, taking a power line with it.

And forecasters say the worst could be yet to come, with heavy rain likely to add to people's woes.

A tree blown down by the wind in Harton Cemetery, South Shields. Pic: Verity Ward.

A tree blown down by the wind in Harton Cemetery, South Shields. Pic: Verity Ward.

A Met Office spokesman said: "Be prepared for the likelihood of flooding affecting properties and parts of communities. Watercourses may become dangerous, deep and fast-flowing, while some transport disruption seems likely."

Its chief forecaster warned that the spell of heavy rain and strong winds would be "prolonged".

Families have been waking to scenes of disruption, with Steve Barlow of Sunderland contacting us to say: "Windy in Tunstall last night, flipping the hot tub and Wendy house upside down!"

* Has your property suffered any wind damage? Contact us at copydesk@northeast-press.co.uk, or via our Twitter or Facebook accounts.

This fallen tree at Castle Eden was one of many weather-related incidents the emergency services had to deal with overnight. Pic: Durham RPU.

This fallen tree at Castle Eden was one of many weather-related incidents the emergency services had to deal with overnight. Pic: Durham RPU.

Steve Barlow sent us this picture of his hot tub and Wendy house, which were overturned by the wind.

Steve Barlow sent us this picture of his hot tub and Wendy house, which were overturned by the wind.

Firefighters remove a tgree which had blown onto a house in Hylton Road, Sunderland. Pic: Kevin Brady.

Firefighters remove a tgree which had blown onto a house in Hylton Road, Sunderland. Pic: Kevin Brady.