Fatal Looe landslip 'an accident waiting to happen'
A man evacuated from his home shortly before a landslide which claimed the life of a neighbour said it was an "accident waiting to happen".
The words came as the Westcountry was clearing up and counting the cost of severe Spring storms which left a further two people dead in separate road accidents and caused chaos across the region.
At Sandplace Road, Looe, police confirmed yesterday that the body of a woman pulled from the wreckage of her home was 68-year-old Susan Norman. It is believed the house, named Veronica, which had been split into three flats, will now be demolished.
One neighbour, who was among those evacuated shortly before dawn on Friday, said the tragedy could have been avoided if warnings about blocked drains had been heeded.
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Retired police officer Pete Temlett said he thought the problem – which has resulted in the stone wall at the front of the property falling away – had been caused by a combination of a build-up of surface water and clogged drains.
The 59-year-old former Avon and Somerset officer, who is staying with friends nearby after being told he was not allowed to return to his home, said: "I have been speaking to the council for a long time about this.
The scene of the building collapse:
"This is something that could have been avoided. I have told the council the drains need clearing but I think we have been treated with absolute disdain."
Mr Temlett said he submitted a 65-page dossier of evidence to the council, warning it of the problem, but that his calls for help have fallen on deaf ears.
He said: "This was an accident waiting to happen."
Asked to comment on the possible causes for the landslip, a council spokesman said: "This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing woman.
"The council is working with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive to carry out a thorough investigation into the cause of the landslip."
Sandplace Road, which runs along the entrance to the properties, has been closed to traffic for months following a landslide nearby just before Christmas.
Cornwall Councillor for West Looe and Lansallos Edwina Hannaford described Ms Norman, a mother of two, as "a happy, lovely lady".
She said: "Susan was well-known in the town and was an active volunteer. She was a very happy lady, very friendly and smiley, and would always say hello." She added: "This tragedy has hurt the community."
The torrential rain which swept across Cornwall and Devon on Thursday and Friday caused widespread disruption and flooding in dozens of towns, many of which had barely dried out after suffering a deluge in November.
In North Devon, tributes were paid to a "popular" and "kind" teacher who was declared dead at the scene of a car crash on the A39 near Kilkhampton on Friday morning.
Sara Bluett was believed to have been on her way into work at Park Community School in Barnstaple, where she was second in charge of the design and technology department.
Bouquets were left outside the school and a Facebook page set up in the 46-year-old's honour yesterday had more than 4,000 followers.
David Atton, Park Community School headteacher, said Miss Bluett had joined the staff in 2000 and that "for the last 13 years we have known and respected a dedicated teacher and tutor, a friendly helpful colleague, a person who will be very sadly missed by the many who knew her.
"She was a lovely lady and it is very, very sad."
He said the school's thoughts were with her family, adding: "This is a shock for us all."
In a third fatality on Friday, a car passenger died in a crash just before 6pm on the A38 at Ivybridge.
Eyewitnesses said that the car had left the road and gone through a hedge and into a field.