St Valentine’s Day Storm Brings Worst Conditions To Scilly Since Late 80’s

Waves crashing over Old Town sea wall. Photo by Brandon Kershaw.

Waves crashing over Old Town sea wall. Photo by Brandon Kershaw.

It was hard for islanders to love nature yesterday as the St Valentine’s Day storm battered Scilly and brought the worst conditions since the late 1980s.

The sound of the fire station siren brought an eerie reminder of the impending afternoon high water as crew were called out to deal with flooding.

Porthcressa and Old Town Bay took the full force of the storm with winds gusting up to 79mph.

In Old Town, police helped convey schoolchildren across Old Town Bay in the Force Land Rover, before the road was closed.

The greatest amount of damage was sustained at Porthcressa, where the concrete slipway broke up under the pounding of the waves.

Fire crew were dispatched to pump out the Bishop and Wolf pub and they worked hard to remove the seawater, which was flooding towards the town along the slip next to the Wheelhouse.

The powerful waves smashed through the front door of beachside café Dibble and Grub, despite the efforts of an army of locals who built a wall of sandbags.

Water got into the new square too, as waves and spray washed over the buildings on the seafront.

From Radio Scilly

Porthcressa resident Jeremy Pearson on how he couldn’t get back to his flat

Islanders who live in the two flats above Sibley’s Offices at Porthcressa were prevented from going home, for their own safety.

One of the residents, Jeremy Pearson, told Radio Scilly news that the situation at 4pm on Friday was “beyond sandbags.”

Jeremy and neighbour Martyn Songhurst were Scilly’s first refugees of this storm, he joked.

Along the bay, gardens owned by residents of Little Porth were also inundated by seawater.

Upcountry on St Mary’s, Normandy swimming Pool suffered storm damage to the building and will be closed for the rest of the weekend.

And there’s no let-up for travellers to the islands. Following further heavy rain and the forecast of more to come over the coming week, Skybus says Land’s End Airport will remain closed for passenger flights up to and including Saturday 22nd February 2014.

The waterlogged runway has been out of action since the Christmas break. It’s a repeat of the major disruption experienced last year.

Before Christmas, Steamship Company Chairman Andrew May told Radio Scilly that he hoped remedial drainage work in the summer would have prevented the problems of 2013. It’s hoped that surfacing of the grass runway will take place later this spring.

In the meantime, the islands’ Council wants you to email reports of damage to enquiries@scilly.gov.uk so they can get an accurate picture of how the islands have been affected and decide what needs to be done.

And as the clear up begins today, the AONB Partnership is providing black sacks for islanders to collect litter, which has washed up on beaches.

Rebecca Steggles says the Council will take the bagged rubbish if it is left by any of the green Council waste bins on St Mary’s.

If you live on the off-Islands you can take the collected litter to your waste site and it will be dealt with in the usual way.

Thanks to Brandon Kershaw and Fran Clark for the photos.