Cars have been left floating in sea water and people trapped inside a Morecambe gym as fierce winds batter the Lancashire coast.
Sally Norman, one of the managers at VVV Health and Leisure Club, in the town’s Marine Road East, said: “We’re flooded.
“Eight cars are floating in the car park. It’s very scary. It was up to the windows, the sea was literally bashing on the windows.
“The boss can’t get in the building at the moment. It has obliterated a lot of the car park, about a third of it has gone.
“We’ve got 25 of us still trapped in here, and we’ve had to sandbag the doors.
“It’s got in the pool, the spin room, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“My car is still floating in the car park.”
The waters have now receded in the car park but a path of damage has been left to picked-up vehicles across the rock-strewn surface.
A spokesman for Liverpool Coastguard said they had been busy around the Lancashire coast throughout the day.
He confirmed a number of vehicles were floating in several places, adding that teams would be on standby to help reunite people with any boats which have drifted off.
People are being urged to stay away from sea fronts as powerful winds whip up three-metre high waves.
It was difficult to stand up on Morecambe front as severe gales pounded the area.
Such was the strength of the incoming tide that boulders making up the sea defence were shifted a few feet out of place.
Combined with a high tide at lunchtime, the conditions flooded many roads around the bay, including Sunderland Point and Hest Bank.
The Met Office has issued its second-highest amber warning with severe gales of up to 90mph possible across Lancashire and Cumbria.
The Environment Agency issued flood warnings for Sunderland Point, Overton and Heaton, the Wyre estuary at Hambleton and Sandside and Arnside in South Cumbria.
And lesser-level flood alerts are in place along the coastline from Heysham to Cockerham and Heysham to Carnforth, including Bolton-le-Sands and Hest Bank.
There are reports of tiles blowing off the Oasis amusement arcade in Morecambe, nearly hitting pedestrians.
Fire crews were called to the BP garage on Lancaster Road, Carnforth, after high winds damaged the roof.
A fire crew was sent to Park View residential home in Morecambe after wind damage and to a house in Bolton-le-Sands where a trampoline blew against some garage buildings.
In Milnthorpe, firefighters had to rescue two men who were stuck in their car in flood water near Dallam Tower shortly after 12.30pm.
At Glasson Dock, a woman was reported to be trapped in her car as it was engulfed by flood water at around 12.20pm.
She was freed by the time fire crews arrived.
Motorists were held up on Wyresdale Road in Lancaster after a tree toppled over. It has since been removed.
Due to high winds, Williamson Park has been closed to the public.
Drivers heading north into Cumbria faced delays after at least two lorries overturned on the M6 at junctions 40 and 44.
Winds of 112mph were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria - some of the strongest in the UK.
Train passengers are also experiencing problems on the rail network.
Virgin Trains said on Twitter that a tree had fallen onto the West Coast Main Line at Oxenholme and caught fire after hitting the overhead power lines.
The company added: “Anyone who chooses not to travel today or tomorrow and abandons their trip, is entitled to a full refund from point of purchase.”
Liz O’Neill, the Environment Agency’s North West incident duty manager, said: “Gale force winds and large waves are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides. These are expected to cause potential flooding in the North West on Thursday morning.
“Communities on the coast and near estuaries could be affected.
“Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.
“The Environment Agency is fully prepared and we are working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities.
“Environment Agency teams are out on the ground confirming that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood warnings if necessary.
“People should check the Environment Agency website or follow @EnvAgencyNW and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and to sign up to receive free flood warnings.”