GALE Force winds created a tidal surge that left a swathe of destruction across Wirral’s coastal towns today.

Emergency services warn strong winds coupled with high tides could bring further problems tonight and rescue teams are on stand-by throughout the borough.

Clean-up crews are beginning the massive job of clearing away tons of debris torn from sea defence walls.

Such was the power of the sea at noon today that sections of railings and feet-thick concrete tide-breaks were ripped apart and the debris scattered across the promenade at Hoylake and Meols, forcing roads to be closed.

Destruction: Meols promenade earlier today

There was similar damage at West Kirby seafront, which was closed to traffic as flood water raced across the promenade taking several parked cars in its wake and smashing them against walls opposite the marine lake.

Staff at Tanskey's restaurant on West Kirby promenade contacted the Globe after six of them became trapped inside.

Seawater levels began to rise, leaving what they described as "shoulder height" water outside and inches of water within the premises.

Michelle Woolway said: “We’ve been stranded here for over an hour. The tide is on its way back out now, but it is going to be a few hours before it has cleared.

“The lifeboat has been out to check that we are okay. We back onto Coronation Gardens and it is completely flooded.

Flooded: West Kirby seafront awash

“The cast-iron benches outside, which are concreted into the ground, are floating past. A Volvo estate floated past earlier.”

New Brighton’s recently redeveloped promenade was the worst affected.

Storm damage: New Brighton prom left under water

Shops, supermarkets, restaurants and the Travel Lodge hotel at Marine Point were flooded.

Most remain closed and are currently inaccessible. King's Parade will remain closed for the rest of tonight.

Surveyors are at the scene in the process of assessing the damage.

Louise Boswell, who has lived at The Cliff in New Brighton, for 30 years called Globe reporters at around midday and described the effect of the alarming tidal surge.

She said: “You cannot see the three Dips any more, they’re just full of water. The main road is full of water. It’s just horrendous.

"it’s as if the sea has come right up over the road. The roads are call completely blocked and all traffic is stopped.

Washed out: Loading bay at Morrison's supermarket

“I have lived here for 30 years and only once before have I seen it like this. 

"You can’t see the greens, it’s like they’re not even there. I can’t see the back road – it’s all just water.”

Police say the area remains dangerous and are advising the public to stay away until debris has been cleared.

They say recovery plans are in place to return to “a state of normality as soon as possible.”

New Brighton's popular "Black Pearl" pirate ship was swept away during the storm.

Doomed: Black Pearl is swept away

Built out of driftwood collected from the beach, the ship was created by local artist Frank Lund and his friend Major Mace and attracted visitors from across the borough and beyond.

Bob Warwick, of RNLI New Brighton, said: "Today's storm saw the sad demise of New Brighton's famous pirate ship, including its two inhabitants (a pair of rats) who I suspect drowned.

"In addition, the car park and lake in front of the fort was totally flooded with one unfortunate person's car floating in the debris."

The resort's Championship Adventure Golf Course, which opened only in March of this year, was all-but washed away.

Its owners have tweeted it is now likely to remain closed until the new year.

High tides are expected overnight, and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service area manager Myles Platt said: “We urge people to be very careful around the coastal areas of Merseyside tonight as the weather is still expected to include strong winds.

"We also urge people to check the flood warnings and weather warnings being issued for their area and any area they are thinking of going to.

“Water rescue teams and rescue boats were on standby along with the North West Ambulance Service’s Hazard Area Response Team throughout the duration of the incident in New Brighton.

“All operational firefighters in Merseyside are trained in still water rescue for incidents in or near lakes, docks and canals.

"Our specialist Search and Rescue Team and Marine Rescue Unit are trained in swift water rescue to help those in need in rivers, such as the Mersey."

Click here for up-to-date flood warnings.

New Brighton: King's Parade will not re-open tonight

Graham Burgess, chief executive of Wirral Council, said: “We have an emergency response team in place and have been working closely with our partners at Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue since the problems started.

“There will be another high tide tonight, and, although it is not expected to be as severe, I strongly urge people to stay away from the affected areas for their own safety.

"King’s Parade in New Brighton will not re-open tonight.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and are already implementing plans to address the issues that the strong winds, combined with the high tide, have caused.

"We are aware of the majority of damage and have crews out clearing debris.

"Crews will also be working throughout the borough to clear the litter created from household bins that have blown over.

“If anyone is concerned about a vulnerable person who may need assistance as a result of today’s events, they should contact our Central Advice and Duty Team on 0151 606 2006.

Wall of water: A massive wave crashes into Morrison's 

Rod Hutchinson, from the now defunct New Brighton Heritage Action Group - set up to protest against parts of the regeneration plan - said: “The message is that we should learn our lessons from the previous severe flood in 1981.

“The applicants behind the development argued that this was an event that will happen only once in every 200 years.

"Sadly, and I hate to say it, they have been proved wrong.

"It is quite obvious that this is a vulnerable site.

"I’m horrified to think of how much today’s events are going to cost in insurance payouts.”

Shane Osborne, manager of Caffe Cream at New Brighton, told the Globe the coffee shop miraculously had been left unaffected.

He said: “We got very lucky today. We were probably the only one that’s missed it.

“I think everyone else was hit fairly badly – a lot of the shops and restaurants have had to close

“Cars were struggling to get past and were sliding into each other. The fire brigade came and started dragging them up the hill.

“Everywhere looks pretty badly damaged. But thankfully, we’re okay.”

Wallasey Village resident Jill Currie visited New Brighton this afternoon to see the aftermath.

She said: “It’s such a shame. Marine Point has only just opened and it is finally bringing investment and money into the area - then this happens.”

Brian and Marjorie Wright had been down to the seafront to take photographs of the flood and were on their way back home when their car became trapped in rising waters.

The couple, who are both aged in their 70s, live in The Cliff, which overlooks the Dips.

Brian, a retired transport manager said: “It’s like the floods of 1981.

“I came down to take photographs of it today, but never imagined I would end up becoming part of the story.

“Obviously, I assume, the people who built this place must have realised it was going to be a potential flood risk.”

Wallasey MP Angela Eagle said: "The emergency services have assured me that  everything is being done to protect the public in New Brighton from the high winds and dangerous flooding.

"I urge people locally to stay safe and follow police advice to stay away from the affected areas and only venture outside if absolutely necessary."

Globe reader Dave Peddie sent in a video capturing the full power winds as they hit New Brighton. Watch it below.