MEGASTORM: Four die as 100mph St Jude’s gales wreak havoc …
VICTIMS: Bethany Freeman and Donal Drohan PA
A night of 100mph winds, torrential rain and devastating damage left more than 300,000 homes without power. And commuters were left to deal with widespread travel chaos on their journey to work this morning. Bethany Freeman, 17, died after a tree fell onto her caravan in Hever, Kent while she slept.
Firefighters and police attempted to cut the schoolgirl from the wreckage but sadly couldn’t save her. Donal Drohan, 51, died as he drove through Watford in Hertfordshire. Police said a millisecond’s difference would have made for “a different story”.
The bodies of another two people were found at an address in Hounslow, west London, after a falling tree led to a suspected gas explosion. Detectives found the body of a man, in his 40s, at the home in Bath Road at around noon. He has been identified and next of kin have been informed.
The woman was found dead an hour and a half later and police were working to establish her identity.
STORM: Schoolgirl Bethany Freeman, 17, died when a tree fell on her caravan FAMEFLYNET
KILLED: Donal Drohan, 51, died as he drove through Watford in Hertfordshire LNP
Miss Freeman was a sixth-form pupil at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School. Staff described her as “universally respected” and “had everything to look forward to”.
Lying across the caravan, the tree which killed her was estimated to be about 30ft and could be seen from the roadside. Another caravan stood beside the one that was crushed, as police stood guard outside the rural property in Lydens Lane. It emerged that neighbours came forward with chainsaws to help free the girl.
One neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “(The family) were planning to join up their two buildings, and they were living in the caravans in order to do it. “They had been living there for one and a half years, but I don’t know how many of them there are. “She was in one caravan, and mum was in another caravan.
I don’t know who else was there. “At the end of the day the tree has come down. I won’t criticise anyone working there but not one of the emergency services had a chainsaw.
“It came down to the locals having chainsaws in order to cut a gap and also the local farmer having lifting gear. “I don’t blame them for not having lifting gear but in the old days the police used to carry chainsaws in the boot. “I didn’t use the chainsaw, the fire officer did, but why didn’t they have them?”
Mr Drohan from Harrow, west London, was in the “wrong place at the wrong time”, an officer who attended the scene said. The victim, who was originally from Waterford in Ireland, died after his car was struck by a falling tree at the eastern end of the bridge over the River Colne on Lower High Street.
ESCAPE: Luckily no-one was hurt when the tree fell RAYMONDS
COMMUTE: A large tree smashed in to the number 221 bus in London RAYMONDS
TRAGIC: A 13-year-old navigates his way to school REUTERS REUTERS
BLOCKED: Police attend to a fallen tree in Reading DEMOTIX
CRASH: A massive tree blocks the road in Islington, London REUTERS
DETERMINED: A commuter decides to jump over the tree as he attempts to go to work
CRUSH: Fallen trees have caused devastating damage in Brighton this morning FAMEFLYNET
Flights and rail services across the country were cancelled or delayed and widespread flooding affected southern parts of England as rain and hurricane-force winds arrived from the South West.
Trees were brought down by high winds, damaging property, and a number of roads were left impassable by floodwater. The search for a 14-year-old boy swept out to sea in Newhaven was called off yesterday due to the dangerous conditions. Named as Dylan Alkins, the teenager is feared dead.
He disappeared while playing in the surf at West Beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, at about 4.15pm yesterday. Police were with the boy’s “distraught” family.
DANGER: A crane collapsed in Whitehall, central London DEMOTIX
DESTRUCTION: A construction crane crashed onto the roof of the Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London causing substantial damage DEMOTIX
DISASTER: Scaffolding fell off an entire row of buildings in Leyton, east London BARCROFT
RECOVERY: The clear-up begins as trees are chopped up
CRASH: Waves smash the coastline in Brighton during high winds
DANGEROUS: A boat has come off its mooring overnight
The Met Office said wind reached more than 99mph on the Isle of Wight at 5am and the Environment Agency issued 14 flood warnings for the South West, as well as 147 flood alerts for the rest of England and Wales.
An amber warning was lifted as the heart of the storm – dubbed St Jude after the patron of lost causes – blew away from Norfolk and over the North Sea to continental Europe. Many train services were cancelled and some were still struggling to return to normal late in the afternoon. Debris falling on to power lines caused a nuclear power station to automatically close down both its reactors, leaving its own diesel generators to provide power for essential safety systems.
CRUSH: One motorist will be devastated after a tree crushed his car
LUCKY: One car owner had a lucky escape when a tree fell over his vehicle
ON THE EDGE: A tree balances precariously over a road in Reading DEMOTIX
SEASIDE: One beach hut failed to survive the night CONNORS
SPLASH: Streets were flooded in Wales overnight HUW EVANS
REFLECT: A road is submerged in Cardiff HUW EVANS
A London bus was hit by a tree this morning in Turnpike Lane. The number 221 was damaged after the large tree crashed onto its roof but luckily no-one was hurt. More than 7,000 homes in the South West were among 15,500 customers of utility company SSE left without power, Downing Street said.
Homes were also left stranded on the south coast, in Poole, New Forest, Yeovil, Aldershot, Petersfield and Basingstoke, while in West Sussex a further 200 homes were without power. Travel operators took major precautions to protect passengers. Many train companies ran amended timetables, with some not operating at all until late morning.
On the roads both Severn bridges were closed, the A249 Sheppey Crossing in Kent was closed due to strong winds and there were 30mph speed limits on the Dartford Crossing in Kent. About 130 flights were cancelled at London’s Heathrow Airport today, while ferry journeys were also disrupted, with P&O Condor, DFDS Seaways and Hovertravel all reporting cancellations. There were also widespread reports of local roads in Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex blocked or closed due to fallen trees and flash flooding.
QUEUE: Holidaymakers were left disappointed this morning at St Pancreas Station NATIONAL
CAREFUL: Eurostar trains will not run until the lines are inspected
Sussex Police tweeted that there were 125 trees down across roads in the county by 6.30am. Kent Police’s road policing unit said on Twitter that more than 70 trees had been blown down across the county. Cornwall Council reported heavy flooding on the A388 at Hatt, and trees fallen on a number of A-roads, including the A374 at Sheviock and on the A390 near Lostwithiel.
Street lamps were also blown out in Saltash. In Newquay 100 properties were left without power for part of the night, and emergency services were called out to almost 40 incidents. Sharon Taylor, assistant chief constable for Devon and Cornwall Police, told the BBC: “So far we have had 122 weather-related incidents, that includes 19 reported areas with localised flooding.
“We have put out over 100 extra police officers, including over 50 special constables. I am pleased to say that the majority of incidents are those reported by our own staff and other agencies out on the road, so it does seem that the public have taken to heart the advice we have been giving out over the weekend. “We have got a significant number of flood warnings in place and certainly at least 19 areas where we have got localised flooding at the moment.”.
She added that police were considering evacuating up to 30 properties at Axminster because of flooding, rather than wind damage. Ms Taylor said volunteers in 4×4 vehicles were poised to get out around the two counties to help with flood and wind damage. A police car was damaged by a falling tree on the B2104 in Sussex, officers said, while a car also hit a fallen tree in Langney Rise, Eastbourne.
The driver was uninjured, police said.
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