Town battered by high winds

PUBLISHED: 07:14 25 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:08 31 May 2010

GALE-FORCE winds brought havoc to the area last week, uprooting trees and pulling down power lines. Police in Saffron Walden were alerted to dozens of incidents during the blustery winds that battered the country and claimed 12 lives last Thursday. A spok

GALE-FORCE winds brought havoc to the area last week, uprooting trees and pulling down power lines.

Police in Saffron Walden were alerted to dozens of incidents during the blustery winds that battered the country and claimed 12 lives last Thursday.

A spokesman said: "Most incidents were dealt with by county highways, but we got out to the ones that we could.

"I think people were driving more carefully - anybody using the roads must have been aware that round the next corner there could be a tree blocking the road."

The first call to police was at 5.30am, when a tree had fallen across the B1052 between Hadstock and Little Walden.

At 11am, police were told phone wires had been brought down at Bury Water Lane, Newport.

The busiest period was between noon and 1pm, when about 10 calls were logged by police, informing them of trees being felled in villages such as Elsenham, Stansted and Birchanger.

In Hilltop Lane in Saffron Walden at 12.50pm, it was reported that power cables had broken and were sparking in the road.

In total there were more than 20 reports of storm damage in the area made to police during the day but despite the dangerous conditions, there were no injuries.

Steve Wheaton, a general manager for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: "We have been more fortunate in Essex than in other parts of the country, where there have been deaths related to the extreme weather.

"To our knowledge no-one in Essex suffered any life-threatening injuries due to wind yesterday."

The fire service was kept busy, receiving hundreds of calls.

Group fire control officer, Lynne Harding, said: "We took more than 600 calls. In the main they were trees and power lines brought down, balconies becoming unstable and chimney stacks and road signs being badly affected.

"Extra staff were drafted in, with control staff coming in on their day off and other trained officers manning phones, to increase our capacity to keep up with the sheer volume of calls received.

"Everyone has made a special effort and it's thanks to their dedication we were able to provide the service we did."

Transport was also disrupted, as the railway lines ground to a halt and many travellers became stranded in London.

An Easyjet plane travelling from Belfast to Stansted was forced to land at the John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, but flights to and from Stansted Airport were otherwise unaffected.

A spokesman said: "The winds reached speeds of around 60 mph and by the end of the day 17 departing flights had been cancelled from Stansted and eight flights that were scheduled to land at Stansted were diverted to other airports.

"Some of those diverted elsewhere weren't necessarily because they couldn't land here at itself Stansted but due to the severe weather disruption on their flight paths.

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