Flood alerts have been put in place for several of Cornwall’s rivers and Cornwall Council has activated silver command as storms begin to batter the county.
Alerts have been issued for rivers in North Cornwall, the River Lynher and the Upper Tamar throughout this evening until tomorrow.
Residents living in Newquay, Padstow, Wadebridge and Sladesbridge, Bodmin, Camelford Rame Peninsula, Callington, Saltash, Rilla Mill, Pillaton and Landrake, Bude, Helebridge, Bridgerule, Canworthy Water and Yeolmbridge are also being warned of a deluge.
The latest information from the Met Office and the Environment Agency is storm force winds between 60mph and 80mph are expected to sweep through part of Cornwall tonight, with the worst of the storm moving away from the county by 6am.
The hurricane-force winds are expected to leave a trail of disruption to travel and damage to trees, buildings and power lines.
As the storms starts to sweep through Cornwall Council with Devon and Cornwall Police and partner agencies has activated a command centre in Truro. It will run through the night and command centres will open at police headquarters in Exeter and Plymouth.
It will have staff from Cornwall Council’s highways, environment, localism, CORMAC, fire and rescue and emergency management services, as well as representatives from the Environment Agency and health partners.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor, from Devon and Cornwall Police, is co-ordinating the multi-agency taskforce.
“All agencies have been meeting regularly with the view that we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,“ she said.
They have increased resources in preparation for the storm.
Police have drafted in an extra 110 staff to work throughout the night during the storm’s most ferocious period, including 58 special constables and call handlers.
“We want to reassure the public that their safety is paramount and remains our absolute priority. If anyone is at risk or in danger they should call 999 immediately."
She called on the public to take “personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of vulnerable neighbours as far as possible, as well as ensuring that they are prepared as they can be.”
Residents are urged to only venture outside unless absolutely necessary and to stay up-to-date with forecasts
“In particular we would urge people not to be tempted to put them or others at risk by heading out to coastal areas and harbours to watch the stormy seas as this is exceptionally dangerous in these weather conditions.
“We expect that our region will be welcoming many visitors for half-term breaks. We would urge any drivers taking a trip to Devon and Cornwall, particularly with a caravan or mobile home, to think very carefully before setting off as driving conditions are expected to be very difficult on Sunday evening through to Monday morning.
“We are anticipating significant travel disruption and ask people to plan ahead, add extra time for their journey and check first whether essential travel services are running. Driving conditions are expected to be very difficult due the risk of flash flooding, fallen trees and other debris. We ask drivers to slow down, take care and give other motorists plenty of space.
“Police and partner agencies will do everything they can to minimize any impact on the community but people should expect some disruption on Monday morning, particularly during the rush hour period.
“All agencies will be working hard tomorrow to help any local communities affected return to normality as soon as possible.”
In the past few hours Cornwall Fire and Rescue and Cornwall Council’s contractors Cormac Solutions Ltd have been responding to down trees and power lines.
Additional crews have been drafted, and more are expected during the night, including specialist chainsaw teams, in a bid to tackle the risk of flooding.
The Highways Agency is urging people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Travel firms are advising people to check their websites before setting off.
Western Distribution Power said it has made a contingency plan to deal with the aftermath.
It has doubled up on office staff and workers on the ground across the south west to deal with fallen cables and disruption to power.
David Crocker, shift manager for Western Distribution Power, said: “We have put as much in place as we can before it actually happens and now it is a bit of a waiting game.”
Barry Wilton, Mevagissey Flood Group chairman, said: “The crux of the matter is Cornwall Council have given it due diligence, the emergency services are on standby, the flood wardens and the community are on standby and the warnings have gone out. We have all done our bit and can’t do anymore, it’s just a case of waiting to see if something occurs.”