100 MPH hell

030112 Storm damage at 17 avon drive , linlithgow.
030112 Storm damage at 17 avon drive , linlithgow.

THE first week of 2012 arrived with a crash as winds up to 100mph uprooted trees, smashed homes and cut off public transport in the Linlithgow area.

Jim and June Fleming who live at 17 Avon Drive, Linlithgow Bridge, got the fright of their lives at 8.30am on Tuesday when the roof was ripped off their house and landed in surrounding gardens.

The next day June (69) said: “We’re fine - but it was a terrible shock. There was a lot of debris flying everywhere. The whole roof came off and there’s a lot in the back garden and two of my neighbour’s gardens. My blue and brown bins are all under the debris. There was nothing we could do. It’s amazing no one was hurt.”

A fire officer assessed the “dangerous structure” but there was nothing a crew could do. Later on Tuesday night a roofer along with eight others secured a polythene cover to the top of the house so June and husband Jim (73) could have shelter.

Jackie Morison (45) at 21 Avon Drive added: “The roof lifted off and landed in my garden. We were just going out to pull our trampoline in, and we would have been killed!”

A train from Edinburgh was hit by a tree at Winchburgh shortly after 8.15am, and was terminated at Linlithgow. From the afternoon, Linlithgow station was cut off as trains were suspended to and from Edinburgh Waverly and Glasgow Queen Street.

Hundreds of trees across West Lothian came down, many closing roads. James McLean of Riccarton Road praised council workmen for their efficiency after they responded to a 10am call when a tree fell near Donaldson’s School on Preston Road. Workmen cleared the road and secured a damaged street light pole by noon. A stag was killed by a falling tree at Beecraigs Country Park, and two trees blocked the pathway after they came down at Capstan Walk.

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “Clearly this has been an extreme weather event with major disruption and damage across West Lothian. I would like to thank the emergency services and council teams who worked to help householders. Our priority was to make sure vulnerable residents received services, the roads were cleared, and to support the emergency services.” He added it was too early to estimate the cost of the storm but a major clean-up effort across the region was underway.

See p2 and 3 for more.