Weathering the storms

CUMBERNAULD is bracing itself for more bad weather after a dramatic turn in the elements saw the town battered by gales of approximately 100 miles per hour at their height.

Friday, 16th December 2011, 12:25 pm

Hilly Cumbernauld is always vulnerable in bad weather and this was no exception. Last Thursday town went into lockdown with schools, community facilities and council offices being shut after play-it-safe guidelines were issued to North Lanarkshire Council by the Scottish Government.

As a result council bosses have opted to extend the deadline for the £15 Christmas gift for pensioners until tomorrow (December 14) after One Stop Shop collection points were closed due to storms.

There was panic amid claims that trains and buses would be stopped on safety grounds - but staff kept the wheels in motion, ferrying locals in and out of town.

Cars,giant lorries and coaches alike were beset by fierce crosswinds on the M80 against a backdrop of darkening skies - but otherwise disruption was kept to a minimum.

The situation has also created a backlog for driver tests candidates who were barred from sitting tests on safety grounds in both Springburn and Airdrie based test centres last week.

The bulk of candidates have been issued with alternative dates in 2012.

Back in Cumbernauld the brute force of nature was embodied in an incident which saw an IRON BENCH blown skywards in Balloch.

It belonged to retired nurse Catriona Kilmurray who lives in Logan Drive – who had been determined to protect the exceptionally heavy object with a tarpaulin.

She told the News that the bench is almost impossible to move at the best of times - but NOT when the elements take over as they did last Thursday.

Mrs Kilmurray was bracing herself for a nearby tree coming down but realised that the bench too might be under threat. said: “My only worry at first was that the covering would blow off - but it filled up with air and the bench blew off like a parachute. I couldn’t believe it. It crashed into my patio fence and landed in the woodland nearby. My son is coming to see for Christmas and I’ll maybe get him to go out and get it. He’s a big lad.

“I will probably have to buy another bench though,” she added.

Locals who have heard grim predictions about exceptional conditions such as Thunder Snow and equally high winds can access NLC’s own website, which is full of across-the board updates on how services might be affected.

It also provides advice on how to report storm damage and potential road closures. Updates will also be placed on Twitter.

Meanwhile firefighters are on standby to deal with emergencies.

Station Commander John McShane said: “We have been told to expect a repeat of last year. I think we will all be better prepared this time.”