03/01/2018 16:49 GMT

Residents Offered Sanctuary As Storm Eleanor Brings Darkness And Destruction

The UK and Ireland have been left counting the cost of Storm Eleanor after winds tore a destructive trail across the country and plunged thousands of homes into darkness.

Heavy rain and ruinous gusts of up to 100mph swept across England, Wales and the island of Ireland overnight, the effects of which would be felt until Wednesday evening.

Trees caused injuries when they fell on moving cars in several separate incidents.

The collapse of a harbour wall in Portreath, Cornwall prompted the council to set up a respite centre for seafront residents if they wished to leave their homes.

It is feared there could be greater risk posed to the properties without the defence of the wall, which lost a 30ft stretch to crashing waves, once high tide arrives just after 6pm.

Around 20 addresses will be visited by flood co-ordinators who will offer them advice and the use of the temporary shelter.

A partially collapsed harbour wall in Portreath, Cornwall (Steve Parsons/PA)

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said: “It is not an evacuation, no.

“They are being given the option to go to the local church hall if they want to during the high-tide period.

“The harbour wall has collapsed and a high tide expected so it’s just a precaution, really.”

As the storm bore down on the UK and Ireland, tens of thousands of homes and businesses suffered power outages.

They included 55,000 properties in the Republic and 20,000 customers in Northern Ireland.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, which provides power to 3.8 million people across northern Scotland and parts of central England, said it had restored energy to 18,000 homes since midnight.

The distributor added that 700 households were without power for more than six hours and there had been 37 high voltage faults.

About 2,500 properties between Cornwall and the Midlands were also hit by blackouts, largely due to flying debris, Western Power Distribution said.

A yellow warning of wind was extended for all of England and Wales, most of Northern Ireland and the Scottish Borders until 7pm on Wednesday after an amber warning was put in place for the early hours.

Met Office forecaster Oli Claydon said: “It has left some pretty strong winds in its wake still.

“It will continue to taper off into this afternoon and this evening, but it’s certainly starting to quieten down across the UK now, back down to regular winds for this time of year.”

The Met Office previously said gusts of 100mph were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria at 1am, while wind speeds reached 90mph at Orlock Head in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening.

Gusts up to 89mph were recorded on the Isle of Wight at around midnight, while in Northolt, north-west London, speeds of up to 73mph were detected and 77mph gusts were recorded in High Bradfield, South Yorkshire.

The Severn River Crossing and the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk were closed in the early hours due to strong winds.

Roads became perilous in some areas, with one man injured in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, when a tree fell on his car, the Welsh Ambulance Service said.

In England, another falling tree injured two men overnight when it crashed into their car on Lyndhurst Road in the New Forest at about 3.20am, according to Hampshire Police.

Both occupants of the Ford Focus were taken to hospital by ambulance.

A man suffered leg injuries in a similar incident when a tree was brought down by ferocious winds on the A46, West Mercia Police said.

Officers were called to reports of a tree on the road at 2am near Ashton under Hill, but, while there, another tree fell and injured the man, who is believed to have stopped to offer assistance.

(PA Graphics)

Storm Eleanor also brought the threat of surging tides to coastal areas, as entire roads were swallowed by the deluge.

A body was recovered from the sea near Splash Point in Seaford, East Sussex, on Wednesday morning.

It was spotted in the water at about 8am, according to Sussex Police, who informed the coastguard.

It is not yet clear whether the person was swept into the water by the weather conditions.

One intrepid driver in Galway was also captured on camera attempting to plough a car through rapidly deepening water as waves crashed over the Salthill promenade.

A car drives through a flooded car park in Salthill, Galway (Brian Lawless/PA)

Flooding risks could remain for coastal areas for several days, the Environment Agency has warned, as it urged people not to attempt “storm selfies”.

Flood duty manager Neil Davies said: “As the unsettled weather continues, large waves combined with high tides could lead to coastal flooding over the next few days, particularly in the west and south-west of England.

“Our frontline teams are on the ground to check and maintain defences and support any communities affected.

“We urge people to stay safe on the coast, take extreme care on coastal paths and promenades, and don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger trying to take ‘storm selfies’.”

The Environment Agency still had 13 flood warning issues at about 3pm on Wednesday, along with 111 flood alerts.

(PA Graphics)

The Thames Barrier was being closed to protect London from flooding.

Rail passengers were not spared the disruption either, as services including one of the main routes into London were affected by the weather.

Overhead wires between Hayes and Harlington and London Paddington were damaged by the storm, forcing journeys to be delayed.

Similar incidents were reported nationwide as rail workers were scrambled to clear debris from the tracks.