May 18 2013 Latest news:
by DAVID FREEZER
Monday, October 15, 2012
It claimed the lives of 18 people, tore 15 million trees from the ground and left three million homes and buildings without power - the great storm of October 1987 will never be forgotten.
The south and east of England were battered by hurricane-force winds which caused chaos here in Norfolk and Suffolk.
It was the worst storm to have hit England in almost 300 years, since the Great Storm of 1703, and created a terrifying and strange night which few who lived through will ever forget.
The wind speed was recorded at 102mph at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, and more than 90mph in the Yarmouth area.
Were it not for the storm happening during the early hours of the morning, the consequences could have been far, far worse - with an estimate of 150 people injured on top of the tragic fatalities.
One of the 18 people killed on the night was from Norfolk. Sidney Riches, a west Norfolk farmer, died in his wrecked car at Tottenhill, near King’s Lynn, after a crash involving a lorry at a point where the A10 was partly blocked by a fallen tree
Stories of near-misses and lucky escapes were rife as the huge clear-up operation swung into action, seeing the army brought in to assist the emergency services in clearing debris in some areas and electrical engineers from around the country drafted in to help get the region’s electricity network back up and running.
It was the south-east counties of Kent and Essex which bore the main brunt of the storm, although London, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk still felt a heavy force as the weather system swept north-east across the country, after it had formed in the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean.
Many remember clearly that weather forecasters in England had not been warning of serious storms in the days before it hit.
There had been talk of a storm that would not quite reach British shores, which had formed over the west of the Atlantic, but the heavy wind and rain which materialised had been largely unexpected.
The storm was initially referred to as a hurricane, but as the storm had not formed in the tropics, it was not officially a hurricane.
Tonight will be exactly 25 years since the storm created chaos in our region and beyond, including:
- Six of the seven famous Oak Trees in Seven Oaks, Kent, were destroyed.
- An estimated £1.5bn of eventual insurance claims were made.
- The Isle of Wight’s Shanklin Pier was smashed into three pieces.
In the aftermath of the storm British Telecom had over 35,000 faults reported in our region and had to call in engineers from Wales and Birmingham to restore people’s phone lines.
Eastern Electricity really had its work cut out though, with 250,000 homes estimated to be left without power in the eastern region and a repair bill topping £6m.
Most schools in the region were shut on Friday, October 16 but the vast majority were back in action by the following Monday.
We are still witnessing the recovery from the storm today.
With an estimated 15m trees blown down, a mass tree-planting operation was launched to restore the woodland landscape of many wooded areas, including Thetford Forest, Felbrigg Hall and Blickling Hall.
In this eight-page supplement we have brought together all the memories, photos, facts and figures to re-live that terrifying night.
- Share your photos, videos and memories with us at www.iwitness24.co.uk and watch out for much more of our coverage of the storm’s 25th anniversary throughout this week.
- For much more about the 1987 great storm, see the links at the top-right of this page.
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