Sunderland battle back to North-East after weather puts paid to Premier League game against Manchester City (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Sunderland battle back to North-East after weather puts paid to Premier League game against Manchester City
AS strong winds and driving rain battered the North-East, Sunderland's players and supporters had to make their way back from the other side of the country after the Premier League game with Manchester City was called off.
The decision to postpone the match came just 75 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, but with trees down on the approach to the Etihad Stadium and reports of walls collapsing and executive box windows having shattered, it was considered the most sensible thing to do.
Around 1,000 Black Cats fans are believed to have set off for Manchester, but with the weather causing long delays on the M62, it is not known how many reached their destination.
Gus Poyet's men were based elsewhere in the city ahead of the game, but their journey which should have taken around 25 minutes took the best part of an hour to complete.
The Northern Echo's chief sports writer, Scott Wilson, who was due to cover the game for the paper, reported that a number of trees had been blown down on the approach to the ground and the roads were littered with debris from nearby buildings.
Speaking shortly after the postponement, both Poyet and his opposite number, Manuel Pellegrini backed the decision taken by Manchester City's safety officer in conjunction with Greater Manchester Police.
"The bottom line was the police needed to make a strong decision.
"There had been too many incidents around the stadium and it would have been very difficult to maintain the security in terms of the fans and the approaches to the ground," said Poyet.
"You can't really start delaying the kick-off with the danger of things getting worse - there were things flying around the stadium.
"We were ready to play, but we understand that people have to make a decision and we totally support that."
Durham City MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods was another caught up in the weather problems in the North-West.
She had been on Labour party business and was attempting to get to London tonight.
She tweeted: "Pleased I went to Wythenshawe & Sale by election but journey back is proving a nightmare. Now having complete power failure north of Crewe"
She added later: "@VirginTrains driver with wonderful irony says we are in beautiful farming countryside - just a shame none of us in truly appreciative mood"
Despite the delay, she said camaraderie on the train was growing, but wrote later of one person who had clearly had enough: "As if things couldn't get any worse we now have someone trying to bash their way out of the train. Couldn't make it up!"
Back in the North-East, the A66 was closed in both directions to all highsided vehicles between the A1 and M6 due to strong winds.
Two schools in County Durham; the Forest of Teesdale and Rookhope Primary School, closed for the afternoon due to fears over the dangerous driving conditions.
Motorists were also advised by The Highways Agency to avoid stretches of many of the region's main roads, including the A19, A1 and A69 as exposed routes experienced blizzard-like conditions.
An amber 'be prepared' warning for high winds was issued by the Met Office and a yellow 'be aware' warning for snow remains in place for County Durham and Northumberland into tomorrow morning (Thursday, February 13).
Sally Webb, of forecasters Meteogroup, said gusts of up to 60mph were likely to hit exposed areas overnight, although conditions look set to improve for Thursday.
She said: "Overnight tonight (Wednesday, February 12), looking around midnight it will be fairly gusty, and into tomorrow morning, with gusts exceeding 50mph to 60mph in exposed areas.
"The risk decreases throughout the morning.
"Thursday is looking pretty good; sunny spells with the risk of one or two isolated showers and highs of around six Celsius which will feel quite cold."
Conditions are expected to deteriorate again by Friday, with heavy rain and gusts of up to 50mph forecast and Ms Webb said that Saturday is likely to be "another wet and miserable day".
Simon Sheldon-Wilson, traffic management director at The Highways Agency, said they would continue to monitor the situation across the region with a "close eye" and act where necessary.
He added: "Where flooding has caused problems, we have responded quickly to ensure the safety of road users and to re-open lanes and roads as quickly as possible."
Late last night, a broken down train was causing problems for travellers near Darlington.
Many on the London Kings Cross to Edinburgh service tweeted their frustration as they waited for help to arrive.
One reported that the train's pantograph had blown off in the wind.
Steve Shrubb, CEO of the West London mental health NHS trust who comes from Northumberland, wrote:
"Just been told that train coming to tow us into Darlington is called a "thunderbird #internationalrescue"
In Darlington, Carmel Road North was blocked by a fallen tree.
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