Blown away

The cost of clearing up the damage caused in Warrington’s storms is likely to run into many millions of pounds. A Warrington Guardian investigation has revealed the cost of repairing buildings, felling trees and lost revenue in the town is likely to run to more than £4 million. Gales approaching 90mph battered the town on Thursday, bringing down trees, power lines, lifting tiles off roofs and blowing bricks off buildings. With the Thelwall Viaduct and many town centre roads closed, motorists spent five or six hours stranded in traffic as the town ground to a halt. Homes and other buildings were without power after the storm. Schools had to close on Friday due to the lack of power. And while much of the clean- up is well under way, the cost of paying for it is likely to take much longer. Croft Engineering, in Culcheth, is facing a £1 million bill after large parts of its factory were destroyed. Six members of staff were injured by falling debris. The cost of removing felled trees across town is likely to top £1 million. Council tree surgeons have dealt with 400 damaged and dangerous trees, while three times that number have been cleared by private tree surgeons. A 57-feet tree in Winwick, planted by singer turned gardener Kim Wilde when Winwick Hospital was demolished, was destroyed in the storm. The tree appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest tree ever transported and replanted – all the way from Belgium to Warrington at a cost of £60,000. A hole was ripped in the roof of the historic Academy building, the offices of the Warrington Guardian, on Bridge Street. A bell tower was also sent crashing to the ground in front of the building by the Oliver Cromwell statue. The repair bill is expected to be thousands of pounds. And with many hundreds of buildings needing work, costing hundreds of pounds, repairing buildings across town will cost more than £1million. Meanwhile, businesses suffered loss in revenue, as many were forced to close early. One source puts the figure at hundreds of thousands of pounds. But there were many heart-warming stories, too. Day centres for the elderly stayed open after hours when transport to take them home failed to get through. Staff at the Pyramid and Parr Hall catered for a group of school children stranded after a pantomime performance, while staff at Walton Lea Crematorium worked until 8pm after one funeral cortege was delayed in traffic. And motorists stranded in Orford for hours were given cups of tea by residents.