1987 Storm: Back into dark ages

Here is a look back at the EDP's coverage from the 1987 storm Souvenir

Modern technology ground to a halt as overhead power lines all over the region collapsed under the devastation. Our total dependence on electricity was made forcibly apparent.

The Army joined in the battle to repair Norfolk's electricity network after the storm left 14,000 consumers in the country without power for two days. During those teo days, Eastern Electricity workers had managed to re-connect some 135,000 more fortunate customers.

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At the peak of the problem on Friday, 149,000 homes, offices, shops and farms were cut off. Nearly a quarter of West Norfolk's consumers – well over 20,000 homes – were among them.

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Until early on Sunday evening, faults were being discovered faster than they were being repaired, but the repair teams began to turn the tide especially in the high-voltage system.

Help from the Army reached Norfolk late Sunday afternoon, when the first team arrived from Colchester, complete with a giant recovery vehicle capable of liftin 12 tonnes with its crane and winching up to 25 tonnes.

Armed with chainsaws, the soldiers from the King's Own Royal Border Regiment and Royal Engineers were put to work clearing fallen trees which had brought down 11,000 volt power lines feeding the Longwater industrial estate, Costessy.

In the Yarmouth area, many consumers were still without power on Monday, three days after the hurricane struck.

Area manager for Yarmouth and Lowestofy, Peter Marshall, reported nearly 20 parishes – including Runham, Mautby, Fleggburgh and Somerleyton – were cut off over the weekend.

Eastern Electricity workers were going flat out in a bid to restore supplies. Every available man was drafted in, working 18-hour days, and helicopters were used to spot isolated problems.

Local crews were joined by repair teams from London, the Midlands, north-west England, Wales, Yorkshire and Merseyside. On Tuesday, more help arrived from the north and south of Scotland electricity boards.

The amount of rotting food which had to be thrown out from power-cut freezers will probably never be known.

Even as late as Wednesday, five days after the storm, more than 5000 people were still without electricity in villages in a 30-mile radius area around Norwich.

But by Friday, the worst was over. Electricity engineers said they had broken in Norfolk – and it was their turn to help out other counties in difficulty.

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