By Poppy Askham
High winds and rain overnight have caused damage to properties and obstruction of roads across Durham, as Storm Arwen swept through the county, prompting amber weather warnings from the Met Office.
Threat levels have now been downgraded, but yellow weather warnings for wind and ice remain in place for the city today.
The University’s Racecourse marquee lateral flow testing site was damaged during the storm. Staff were informed that the tent had been “destroyed” by last night’s wind and that the number of booking slots at the Lindisfarne Centre and Cafe on the Green sites would be increased as a temporary response.
Coordinators hope that the Racecourse site will be ready to reopen by Thursday 2nd November.
Two Durham University students’ cars were also damaged, one severely, when a garden wall on The Perth in the Viaduct area collapsed, bringing down railings and obstructing the street below with rubble.
The housemate of one of the cars’ owners explained to Palatinate that he had been awoken by an “enormous crash” at around 1:30 am.
“It should be covered by insurance, so we’re not that annoyed, but it is a bit inconvenient”, he added.
The storm also caused a number of tree fellings, with one tree blocking a path on Hallgarth and another entirely obstructing Potters Bank Road early this morning.
One local resident stated: “our street has been battered! Roofs and cars damaged, windows smashed and my poor neighbour’s full roof has fone along with all her possessions from her loft!”
Durham County Council has deployed teams to respond to storm damage across the region and has encouraged residents to call 03000 262 195 to report fallen trees, flooded roads or structural issues.
County Durham and Darlington Fire Service also issued an alert this morning, stating that it is “currently prioritising emergency calls to life risk” following an “exceptionally busy night”.
Emergency services received 227 calls between 6 pm last night and 10 am this morning and control room operators remain “extremely busy”.
Members of the public have been urged to “only call 999 if there is a threat to life or an emergency” and local police have also advised against unnecessary travel.
The University advised all students to stay at their place of residence from 3pm yesterday as a precautionary measure ahead of the storm’s arrival in the North-East in preparation. All in-person teaching was cancelled and and students were asked to leave the Bill Bryson Library.
Organisers also called off a number of University events due to take place yesterday evening in response to the extreme weather, including the cancelling Durham Student Theatre performances, Students’ Union events and two winter balls.
Images: Poppy Askham