Thursday, January 18, 2007


The Client lands a panic job on us today. He needs the entire five year programme of work, broken down into set construct1on cost categories. The team is going to have to work flat out if we're going to achieve this in two days as needed.

Through the day however, the winds rise to gale force and then some and the message comes in that the Thelwell viaduct is closed.

Predictably enough at this point, the traffic diverts through Warrington and chaos ensues. Today this is helped along by trees falling and roofs being blown off and streets being closed as a result.

I ask the team if they'd like to head home early due to the transport bedlam that is building. Due to the rush job however, I have to be mean boss and ask them to take work with them. Still, one of us needs to stay in the office to cover the elements that can't be done remotely. I figure I'll pull a late one and hopefully kill two birds with one stone, break the back of the workload and sit out the worst of the traffic (the predictions are that the winds will drop later).

Our young graduate E commutes in by train from Manchester. I ignore the voices in my head that say "don't be a mother hen" and pass her my private mobile number and tell her to call if she's ever stranded.

I worry too much.

The office empties and in the peace and quiet that results (well if you ignore the sound of gale force winds outside) I manage to get a lot done.

Then my neighbour M from across the road rings and my heart sinks.

A huge willow tree has come down and hit the bungalow next to me. It's resting on their roof apparently. Unfortunately I don't have a day time contact number for the owner J either. Poor bloke - imagine coming home to that.

M fills me in on how the rest of the close is fairing. Another bungalow has lost part of its roof, a six foot wall has collapsed across the passageway (fortunately no one hurt) and various trees and lamposts are strewn across the ground. From what her son can see it looks like I've lost a small tree and a bit of fence, but sounds like I've got off light in the circumstances.

Then my phone rings again and it's E. The station is closed and there are no trains and no replacement buses.

Sometimes I'm right to worry I guess.

She makes her way back to the office and around 7pm we head off, wonderfully assisted on the way by the wonderful Stuart, who provides excellent traffic advice, updating us on which roads are closed as we go. We make it to her place in under an hour and a half (not bad in the circumstances) and then it takes me about another half hour to get back to mine.

In the darkness it's hard to assess the level of damage properly, but from what I can see there is remarkably little damage to J's house. The tree is resting on the roof, but its fall seems to have been retarded by the pavement around its roots. A few broken tiles maybe, but miraculously the roof doesn't appear to have been 'broken'. The full damage won't be clear though until the tree can be removed. Let's hope the wind tonight doesn't pick up too much again.


sally said...

Police slow???? They joke! There is a tree down in our road which just scraped the windows of the only bungalow in the road..our notice says Road Cloosed. More apt, I think.....

Kathryn said...

Oh my dear! We've been let off very lightly down here, I think. Hope all's well now things have calmed somewhat.

hugger steward said...

Excellent use of the word "retarded", by the way. Sometimes you really could only be an engineer ;-)