Dec 14 2011 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge
PREVENTATIVE action may have saved lives last week as the worst storm in a decade hit these shores.
The Met Office issued a red alert in respect of the expected wind speeds, this is the highest warning label that is used in this country.
The wind was at its strongest between noon and 5pm on Thursday and at rush-hour, roads were much quieter than normal as police urged the public not to travel unless strictly necessary.
Many commuters decided to either head home from work early or not venture to work at all.
North Lanarkshire Council, like many other local authorities, decided to close schools for the day for all pupils, although staff were still required to attend.
Although the devastation was not as widespread as had been forecast, the storm still left a trail of destruction in its wake.
One Airdrie couple and their young family had a miraculous escape when the front of their home collapsed during the high winds.
Speeds of up to 165mph were recorded over high ground and North Lanarkshire had to endure speeds of up to 80mph in some populated areas.
The town centre’s much maligned Christmas tree, erected by the council in Graham Street, was felled during the storm.
Nearby Broomknoll Street was sealed off by police due to metal ridging that had become loose on one roof. Buses and traffic were diverted onto Bank Street until the fixings could be made safe.
In Coatbridge, Dundyvan Road was closed for a time because of an unsafe roof.
Throughout Monklands back gardens were particularly badly hit with many wooden panel fences blown over and unsecured furniture and trampolines creating a hazard.
Public transport was affected with many high-sided buses taken of the road due to fears that they may be blown over in the winds.
The storm was officially a cyclone named Friedhelm and went on to hit Scandinavia.
North Lanarkshire Council have set up an area on their website where residents can report storm damage to trees, lampposts and other structures. To report damage visit www.northlan.gov.uk