30 years since the Great Storm

Thirty years on from the Great Storm of 1987, read­ers re­mem­ber how it tore up parts of Bri­tain

YOURS (UK) - - Inside - By Katharine Woot­ton

Many of us re­mem­ber where we were the night of Oc­to­ber 15, 1987, when one of the worst storms in his­tory un­ex­pect­edly bat­tered the Bri­tish Isles. With gusts reach­ing up to 100mph, there was mass dev­as­ta­tion as 15 mil­lion trees blew down, fall­ing elec­tric­ity lines plunged homes into dark­ness, build­ings and roads were wrecked and sadly, 18 peo­ple lost their lives. Just the day be­fore, fore­cast­ers warned of strong winds and heavy rain but had no idea of the im­pact, with weather pre­sen­ter Michael Fish in­fa­mously re­as­sur­ing view­ers that no, there was def­i­nitely not go­ing to be a hur­ri­cane and there was no need to panic... The bad weather be­gan over the af­ter­noon of the 15th; gales ramped up just as many of us were head­ing to bed, obliv­i­ous of the dev­as­ta­tion to come. For some of us, it was a sleep­less night, as we heard the roar­ing wind out­side.

Brenda Wil­liams

says, “Look­ing out of the win­dow at 3am I could see it was pitch black as all the elec­tric­ity had gone off and the trees were sway­ing. I had to change my two-month old’s nappy in the dark.” Some of us, how­ever, were at work when the chaos struck. “I was work­ing in Southamp­ton General Hospi­tal,” says Elaine Pan­nell, “when the ex­ter­nal doors blew off. Scaf­fold­ing also col­lapsed, in­jur­ing a lot of work­men. I had to take blan­kets down the cor­ri­dor with men on trol­lies on ei­ther side, cov­ered in mud – it was like a scene from Ca­su­alty!”

Va­lerie McManus’

hus­band, how­ever, was sig­nif­i­cantly luck­ier that night. “My hus­band had been on a lad’s night out and, slightly worse for wear,

walked home. The lane he walked down had no light­ing and he couldn’t see any­thing but could hear noises be­hind him. The next day, we were com­pletely cut off as huge trees had been blown down in­clud­ing on the road he’d walked down. They must have only just missed him.” Most of us were open­mouthed at the apoc­a­lyp­tic sights we opened our cur­tains to on Oc­to­ber 16. “A few days be­fore, we had new dou­ble glaz­ing put in and closed all the win­dows,” says Felic­ity Furbey. “The first thing we knew that any­thing had hap­pened was when our son came into our bed­room and told us there were trees down in the gar­den.” Leah Tonna couldn’t be­lieve the sight she saw ei­ther. “Our gar­den wall was flat­tened, trees up­rooted and heavy pa­tio fur­ni­ture ly­ing yards away. My hus­band’s much-loved green­house was no more.”

Yours news ed­i­tor, Jenny Cripps, a stu­dent at the time, turned to the TV for in­for­ma­tion. “I switched on the BBC News the morn­ing after to see Ni­cholas Witchell warn­ing peo­ple not to go out un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. It looked like the stu­dio had had a power cut as he was read­ing the news by very dim light. I tried to get to col­lege but had to turn back as trees were ev­ery­where.” These mil­lions of fallen trees caused ma­jor trans­port de­lays and blocked roads and rail­ways. Most ar­eas were over the worst by morn­ing, but in some parts, gusts were still wreak­ing havoc. “I was work­ing in a DIY store in Bar­row-in-Fur­ness and that morn­ing I looked out at the church across the road when the top of the steeple blew off, dam­ag­ing a num­ber of cars,” says Zita Bielby. At last, the winds fi­nally sub­sided, but the dam­age caused was so se­ri­ous it took the coun­try sev­eral weeks to get back to nor­mal. “My hus­band was an over­head li­nes­man at the time,” re­mem­bers Bar­bara Wilkes. “And he was sent to the South to help re­store power. It was two or three weeks be­fore he came back.” But slowly, as trees were cleared, power surged back, and life re­turned to nor­mal.

Above, a Sealink Ferry was forced onto dry land, while trees crashed onto cars and even phoneboxes couldn’t with­stand the power of the Great Storm

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.