GALE FORCE!

Fallen tree in Cupar Muir
Fallen tree in Cupar Muir

THE new year arrived with a vengeance this week as winds of up to 100mph swept through north east Fife, prompting the Met Office to issue a red alert for only the second time.

Fortunately the storms reached their peak on Tuesday when schools were still shut for the holidays and many people were still off work and did not have to travel.

But the high winds still led to widespread damage and disruption, with a total of 16 roads closed throughout Fife; both the Tay and Forth road bridges closed to all traffic and rail services cancelled.

CLOSED

Bin collections were suspended and recycling centres closed on Tuesday as Fife Council personnel worked to clear fallen trees, and a repair team were called in from their holiday break to help deal with the volume of calls from the public about damage caused by the winds.

By 3pm, around 150 repair jobs had been reported to the building services team and repairs were prioritised, with less urgent jobs being carried out the following day.

Teams from transportation and parks and countryside services were out by 8am on Tuesday morning and continued to work through the night to clear roads and footpaths.

DARK

The high winds also brought down power lines, leaving around 15,000 homes in Fife and 17,000 in Kinross-shire in the dark.

Communities affected in north Fife included Newport, Tayport, Balmullo and a number of hamlets in the Howe of Fife, who were without electricity for several hours.

A spokesperson for Scottish Power said that a total of 7400 households in the east Fife area were affected and that by Wednesday morning 1900 of them were still without electricity.

However, extra engineers had been drafted in from down south and were working flat out to restore services.

Kinross-shire was also badly affected by the hurricane-force winds, with one Kinross resident describing the scene in the town as ‘carnage’.

In Milnathort, a house in Church Street was badly damaged by a sycamore tree in Donaldson Park that, ironically, Perth and Kinross Council had finally agreed to fell amid long-running concerns by householders Mary and Douglas Cunningham that it was dangerous.

CRUSHED

Meanwhile, a horse died after being crushed by a falling stable roof in Scotlandwell,

By Tuesday afternoon the Met Office had downgraded the red alert to amber and the wind eased, leaving a trail of trees, branches and other debris in its wake.

This was the second time the country had been put on red alert since the system was introduced last April.

The last time was less than a month ago, on December 8, when hurricane-force winds battered Scotland, closing schools and causing travel chaos.