Snow chaos hits roads

PUBLISHED: 12:30 13 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 10 June 2010

ALTHOUGH Exmouth missed the worst of last week's snow, motorists faced difficult journeys to work. The county's road network was badly affected after a week with heavy snow which led to school closures, stranded motorists and loss of £40 million to busine

ALTHOUGH Exmouth missed the worst of last week's snow, motorists faced difficult journeys to work.The county's road network was badly affected after a week with heavy snow which led to school closures, stranded motorists and loss of £40 million to businesses.Around eight to 18 inches of snow was reported to have fallen from 9pm, Thursday through to Friday, in the worst snow storm in 18 years and what weather experts are calling an "incredibly unusual weather storm."Roads leading out of Exmouth and into Exeter faced fallen trees and power lines, and many motorists were left stranded after the heavy snowfall of Thursday, February 5.Although Exmouth missed the brunt of the snow storm, the A376, B3179 and Woodbury Common were impassable with queues of up to two hours.Around 500 motorists were snowed-in on Thursday night on the A380 Telegraph Hill and A38 Haldon Hill.Topsham PCSO Percy Giles was one of those stuck in the snow for four hours.He said: "I was finally rescued by the mountain rescue crew at 3.30am, after waiting for so long in the freezing cold and not being able to get to any of the rest stops set up by Gold Control."The South Western Ambulance Service staff were praised for helping rescue the hundreds of motorists who were suffering from cold and shock. Business leaders are worried, though, about the cost of the "snow panic" which they say cost Devon's small businesses £40 million.Devon and Cornwall Business Council said there had been unnecessary panic and school closures.Council leader Tim Jones said: "We need better communication between people, the Met Office, the media and schools."More than 40 per cent of staff didn't go to work last week and, if parents had pitched in, the schools could have stayed open."He said the council would be looking at setting up a local service of emails and text alerts to prevent this over-reaction happening again. However, Devon County Council (DCC) has been praised by business leaders for its fast and smooth response to the adverse weather conditions last week.DCC reassured people there was 6,600 tonnes of salt left, which is expected to last up to six days in similar exceptional circumstances.

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