5th February 2014
Guernsey suffers its worst storm in 35 years
February 2014 was a wet and windy month in Guernsey. A high spring tide flooded coastal properties on the third, but worse was yet to come. On 5th February, Guernsey woke to find itself in the grip of a fierce storm. Force 10 winds were tearing up trees and whipping the sea to a froth. Guernsey’s trees were suffering their second battering in a year. The previous March, up to 70 had been felled in a two-day blizzard.
The road through Town was closed from Bulwer Avenue to the Val Des Terres and boats had been capsised. 300 homes lost power in Town alone as 40ft waves crashed over the sea wall and flooded vital infrastructure.
This all came on top of weather than had already left the island saturated. Two days before, Colin Best Nature Reserve had been flooded and stretches of the West Coast Road had been closed for safety. The beach at Fermain had also been closed after the wall had been undermined.
Work to repair the damage, including an undermined wall at Cobo, started right away. Much was completed before the really big storm of 5 February added to the list of maintenance jobs that needed attention.
The sea walls at Vale Castle and Bulwer Avenue were damaged, and so was the cobbled surface at Salerie slipway. Shingle from St Saviour was transported to L’Eree to augment the stone that was already there, and a baby dolphin had to be helped back into the sea after it was stranded on the beach at Pembroke. On Alderney, Fort Clonque was showing signs of structural damage.
From bad to worse
There was some hope that the worst might be over – at least until the next spring tides in March, but that wasn’t so. Guernsey was suffering its wettest February in almost four decades.
Two days later, after an inch and a half of rain in 24 hours, 60 roads were under three feet of water. By 11th February, the BBC was reporting that sea birds were washing up dead on the beaches, and on 13th February it informed the island that “Guernsey’s Victorian bathing pools at La Valette have been closed indefinitely”. All three of the pools were unsafe as a result of the extensive storm damage.