CLEAN-UP and repair operations across East Devon follwing last week’s wild weather are set to last for many weeks to come.

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East Devon District Council (eddc) staff have been out and about in Sidmouth and across the region dealing with the challenges posed by the storms.

Their work has varied from dishing out sandbags for flood prevention to clearing sand and shingle from seafronts, dealing with damaged beach huts and even stopping an ice cream parlour being washed out to sea.

To the west of the district, the Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton areas, up to 18 members of staff spent the early days of the latest storms filling and deploying sandbags around the sea front area and interlinking area, which prevented some of the properties there from flooding.

Around 360 bags were used and some were dropped outside the depot gates for members of the public to help themselves. Areas affected by the high night time tides already had a supply of sandbags. EDDC staff also he handed out empty sandbags to members of the public who called at the Camperdown Depot for them, to fill as they wished.

Staff in the ‘west team’ also assisted in the removal of the contents of an Ice cream business which had collapsed onto the beach, (freezers, and other sundries, parts of the hoarding and structure of the building.) The wooden building was at one point lashed to two four-wheel drive vehicles on the esplanade to stop it floating away on the tide. It later had to be dismantled.

As and when necessary, the 18 council staff were involved in cleaning up after flood water and clearing debris and masonry from the roads and drains. Further clean ups are scheduled this week, with a large 35 cubic-metre skip being placed in Lime Kiln Car Park at Budleigh for the disposal of several tonnes of sea debris and landslip material deposited on the beach and esplanade.

Work included recovering damaged and lost life saving appliances, including rings, ropes, posts and signs. Exmouth’s sea front wall sustained structural damage in five places and contractors were brought in to make emergency temporary repairs. One seafront shelter has lost several windows including part of the side frame and some brickwork was demolished.

The metal railings at the bottom of the closed Mamhead Slipway in Exmouth have been completely twisted and distorted.

Later in the week, staff turned their attention to righting overturned beach huts in Budleigh, and clearing small landslides/cliff falls on the sea front area, followed later by the clearance of debris.

Significant quantities of sand have been lost through wind or water from Exmouth’s dunes. Any sand found on the road or the footway will be returned to the beach but any sand lost in the waves cannot be replaced – unless nature takes a hand at some future date.

There have been six back office staff/ managers involved in managing the incoming workload and necessary inspections during and after the storms. EDDC staff have also been felling, cutting up and removing fallen or leaning trees.

In some cases, work has been done only for staff to have to return to clear up another mess left by the next storm.

In the east of the district - the Sidmouth and Seaton coastline - the story was much the same.

Two staff responded to a call at 21.30 on Tuesday evening (February 4) to deliver sand bags in the town to the Mocha restaurant, which was already being flooded. Unfortunately the Mocha, Dukes and the Bedford were still affected by flooding.

Crews were deployed to cut up and remove any dangerous trees in the Sidmouth area. A further 10 trees were blown over but most were safe on the ground and work was delayed until after the initial clear up.

A contractor was called in at Seaton to remove shingle that had built up against the sea wall to allow the wave return to do its job and protect properties there from possible flooding at the next high tide. Five staff worked hard delivering and helping residents build deflection barriers to divert the sea away from their properties in Seaton. Around 150 sandbags were delivered.

Later in the week, a dozen staff worked on clearing up the seafront roads so they could be reopened. A contractor was again brought in with a JCB to remove the broken walls and shingle from the road at Seaton.

The main driving area on Sidmouth seafront was cleared by EDDC’s own mechanical sweeper. The turning circle at the Port Royal end was so deep in pebbles and broken tarmac that a contractor was called in on Monday (10 February) to clear it.

Many benches and bins have been destroyed. EDDC will be removing memorial plaques from benches and contacting the owners.

Eight office staff and managers have been directing the clear up and dealing with calls from the storms.

Once the debris has been cleared and the storms subside, attention will turn to repairs, including making good damaged beach huts at Jacob’s Ladder Beach, Sidmouth.

Repair work is expected to cost several thousand pounds and take at least six weeks.

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