THE year began in stormy style for the region as a surge of tidal flooding hit Whitby, Saltburn and Scarborough.

Bins and rubbish were washed past arcades, pubs and restaurants on Pier Road in Whitby.

JamieLee Chambers, who working in The Magpie Café when the waters rose, said: “We were expecting it, but I’ve never seen it that bad before. When it came crashing in people were running, but it knocked a young girl and a couple off their feet.”

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In Saltburn, motorists battled the rough seas as the seafront was flooded.

Volunteers from Cleveland Rescue Team were called out to Sandsend to help the public.

A spokesman said: “The early morning tides were slightly lower than predicted and passed without incident, but the afternoon tides, backed by the strong winds, did cause some flooding in Sandsend with one house being flooded.

“The waves were described as being highly dangerous and causing spray to reach the height of a three-storey building.”

In the days that followed, The Northern Echo reported how a car ploughed into a house in Darlington the early hours of the morning.

A broken fence and tyre marks on the lawn showed how the grey Vauxhall Astra left the road at the junction on Railway View, at 3am.

Darlington Police were called immediately, and a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drink driving having been found close to the scene he fled from.

The homeowners were asleep at the time of the incident, which caused considerable damage to the ground floor, but escaped unharmed.

Eighteen months before the incident, a car narrowly missed the same house when it left the roundabout and smashed through the fence. In 2015, there were two more incidents where a car overturned at the same roundabout and a parked car was hit by a vehicle.

Also that month, The Northern Echo reported how a man left paralysed in a car crash got married to his sweetheart four days before he asked to be taken off life support.

Tony Cowan, 31, from Chester-le-Street, fulfilled his wish of getting married to his partner of 12 years and asked medics to be taken off life support due to the intense pain he was in.

Proud wife, Karen Cowan, 29, praised the staff at University Hospital of North Durham, where they were married.

“It was amazing and it was happy and sad because we knew what was coming," she said. "He always wanted to get married but we just never got round to it.”

Mrs Cowan wore jeans, boots and a blouse bought on the spur of the moment, while a matron of the hospital ran home to collect items from her recent wedding for the couple.

She added: “I just want everyone to know how proud I was of him. He was strong and determined but it was the pain in the end that took him.”

Meanwhile, kind-hearted builders came to the aid of an 82-year-old woman after work on her home left it in danger of collapse.

Jacqueline Johnston was almost £16,000 out of pocket when a builder employed to create an extension on her house to help her dying husband disappeared and left the job unfinished.

Darlington firm, Premier Building, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £22,000 needed to demolish and rebuild the extension after Mrs Johnston contacted them when she realised the rogue builder was not going to return to finish his job.

Company surveyor Steven Mitchell said he was moved to tears after meeting Mrs Johnston, who is from Leeds, and seeing the damage caused to her home.

Mr Mitchell said: “While this building was going on, her husband died and this man still took money off her.

“I’m glad he didn’t complete the work because it could have all collapsed and killed someone.”

Elsewhere, baby Kieran Derek MacSorley made his entrance into the world on the passenger seat of a Renault Laguna, just metres from hospital.

Rebecca Jennings, 28, was in the car park at Darlington Memorial Hospital when she gave birth to her son following a three-mile drive from her home.

George MacSorley, 31, Kieran’s father, said Rebecca woke at 3am on Tuesday, January 3 to contractions.

“We phoned the hospital who told us to stay at home for a few more hours and to have some paracetamol and a bath so Rebecca’s mum, Amanda, came over and looked after her.

“It wasn’t long until Rebecca said she needed to go to hospital and when we were in the car, she felt her waters pop and she started to push.

“When we got to the car park she said she couldn’t get out and that the baby’s head was already there.

“We delivered the baby with Rebecca’s mum and wrapped him in a towel straight away because it was a freezing cold night. She was absolutely amazing to do it all without pain relief, I’m so proud of her.”

January also saw several tragic stories. A Darlington FC fan was killed after being hit by a car while on his bicycle.

Ryan Wilson, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene after he collided with a Honda Accord on Rotary Way, Faverdale.

His family described him as a “quiet lad with a big heart” and in a statement through Durham Police, said: “He loved Darlington FC and went to nearly all the matches both home and away and kept all the match programmes and tickets.

“He always wore his Darlington shirt with pride.

“He will be greatly missed by family and friends.”

The football club paid tribute to him with a minute’s silence before their game against Gloucester City.

In York, seven-year-old Katie Rough died in hospital after being found seriously injured on a playing field, an incident which shocked the country.

A 15-year-old girl was given a life sentence for manslaughter in November.

In global news, Turkey witnessed a massacre as a gunman dressed as Santa Claus opened fired on those celebrating the New Year at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

At least 39 people were killed in the attack, and a further 69 were injured, including holidaymakers from the UK.

And Donald Trump vowed to “put America first” as he was sworn in as 45th President of the United States.

Promising to “rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people”, Mr Trump said: “From this day forwards it is going to be only America first, America first.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”