Councils count the cost after the lashing by Storm Eunice downs trees and cuts power

Olympian Louis Smith
BLOCKED: Eunice destroyed a 120-year-old oak tree at Salomons Estate

While there were no reported injuries or deaths in the area, officials say the damage caused by the storm is set to cost millions.

Following a rare Met Office ‘red warning’, the storm front arrived early in the morning with the wind picking increasing in ferocity from around 40mph at 10am to more than 67mph in parts of the town by noon.

The gale force winds uprooted trees, blocking a number of roads in Tunbridge Wells, Groombridge, Southbroough and Crowborough.

Emergency services were kept busy, with Kent Fire and Rescue Service responding to around 190 largely weather-related incidents during the course of the day.

Kent Police received five times the number of 999 calls usually received in a single day.

Across the area, power blackouts were reported. In Tunbridge Wells, a number of homes in the north east of the town were affected along with many rural areas due to the high winds bringing down power lines.

‘Eunice was a serious storm and there have
been major impacts across the county’

Kent County Council described Eunice as a ‘serious storm’ that caused ‘major impacts across the county’.

In Tunbridge Wells the household recycling centre in North Farm was shut as the full force of the storm began to lash the borough, while Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) were forced to suspend all bin and recycling collections.

The NHS closed its vaccination clinic at the Camden Centre on Friday, while the Tourist Information Centre had to be shut for the day, too.

Sports pitches could not be booked on Saturday and Sunday, but not all sports were cancelled.

Half Marathon Route Blocked: Photo by Andy Howey

The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon went ahead on Sunday following the storm, after an uprooted tree blocking the route (above) was removed in time.

On the roads, Kent County Council Highways received over 500 reports of storm damage on the local road network in just 24 hours, over Friday into Saturday.

Rail company Southeastern reported that the storm had felled trees and scattered debris, leading to cancellations over the weekend.

While Kent County Council was still counting the cost of the storm on Monday morning, a major insurer has said the high winds could cost the UK more than £350million.

Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) Tactical Lead and Kent County Council Senior Highways Manager Toby Howe said: “Eunice was a serious storm and as many of our residents will be only too aware there have been major impacts across the county.

“Throughout the weekend there’s been a big collective effort by a wide range of organisations, including Kent Resilience Forum partners and districts and boroughs, to get Kent back up and running and this will continue until the job is done.

“We also need people to remain vigilant as the weather remains unsettled and some strong winds could still cause disruption into next week as the working week resumes.

“Check the weather and traffic news before travelling, report concerns about weather-related damage, and contact UK Power Networks on 105 if you need emergency or extra help because of power cuts.”

Storm Franklin, the third named storm to hit the UK within days of each other following Eunice and Dudley, also lashed the UK earlier this week, although no severe weather warnings were in place in the South East.

Across Tunbridge Wells, Kent and East Sussex the biggest victims of Storm Eunice’s furious winds were the borough’s trees.

Tree down in Sandrock Road: Photo by Bill Blackford

Roads were blocked by uprooted trees in Hungershall Park, Constitutional Hill Road in Southborough and Sandrock Road (above), while a bus shelter escaped being hit when a tree in London Road, near to Mount Ephraim, came down.

An oak that has stood on the Tunbridge Wells/Southborough border for more than a century was also among the casualties of Storm Eunice (main photo above).

The 120-year-old tree split in two during the high winds and fell across the exit to the Salomons Estate in Broomhill Road, where the Times is based, but the timber will not go to waste.

Business director Nick Moore said: “We are now looking for an experienced craftsman to work with to make the wood into a piece of heritage furniture to remain where it had grown.”

Cinema site hoardings blown down revealing ‘grot spot’

The high winds also made short work of the hoardings around the ABC Cinema site in central Tunbridge Wells (above), which were ripped free by the gusts, and a number of lamp posts (such as the one below On Mount Pleasant) and road signs  also fell victim to the storm.

Lamp post down in London Road. Photo by Cllr Matt Bailey

UK Power Networks, which manages the country’s power infrastructure, said it would issue goodwill payments to customers after more than 22,600 homes across Kent were left without electricity.

The organisation said the weather caused a month’s worth of faults in a day, interrupting power to 679,700 homes and businesses.

Areas in Tunbridge Wells affected included the north east of the town in the TN11 and TN12 postcodes as well as many of the rural areas within the wider borough.

By the beginning of the week, around 4,500 homes in the area were still without power.

Tracey Moynes of Boar’s Head Road in Crowborough told the Times on Monday: “We’ve been lighting candles and going to my mum’s and my daughter’s for showers and to get flasks [of hot drinks]. It’s 10 degrees in our house.

“They [UK Power Networks] said we might get power back tonight at 11pm or tomorrow night [Tuesday] at 11pm.”

“We’ve been having takeaways every night, and are supposed to be reimbursed when we get the electricity back.

“There’s also supposed to be a van nearby, where we can plug in our phones. But that’s the only thing we can actually do. We can charge a phone, but we can’t boil a kettle.

“We put the television on, but it kept going on off on off. It wouldn’t stay on, and in the end, we just turned it off.”

By Victoria Roberts


See also: sheep-escape-in-storm-ewe-nice-chaos

Photo: © Paula Bates

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