Thousands in power cut nightmare over Christmas

Rough seas on the front and by the pier at Eastbourne. December 23rd 2013 E52057P
Rough seas on the front and by the pier at Eastbourne. December 23rd 2013 E52057P

It was a wet, windy and dark Christmas for hundreds of households in Eastbourne as severe storms left homes without power for up to four days during the festive period.

The country woke up on Christmas Eve to discover overnight winds of up to 80mph had caused extensive damage throughout the town, with trees falling onto railway lines and power cables.

Continuous rain for most of the week also saw flooding in many areas, particularly surrounding the Cuckmere River.

UK Power Networks worked tirelessly on Christmas Eve to restore power to the 12,000 homes affected in Sussex, but more than 5,000 were still without electricity come Christmas Day. As a goodwill gesture, UK Power Networks, which supplies power to eight million homes across the South East, provided Christmas dinners for people without power at restaurants and mobile facilities across the South.

Nearly 900 Sussex homes were still without power on Friday, December 27 but this was whittled down to just four by Sunday evening.

The storm also caused severe disruption to roads and railway lines, causing a headache for many who tried to travel home for the festive period.

Southern Railway was forced to cancel the majority of its services on Christmas Eve due to power supply failure, landslides and flooding and blockages on the tracks.

The damage, combined with pre-planned rail improvement works, will continue to create problems for Eastbourne commuters into London for the foreseeable future, with a statement on the company’s website stating ‘this will not be a quick repair’.

The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service answered 230 weather-related calls on Christmas Eve alone, attending 130 of these incidents, including signage that had been blown off a shop in Lower Willingdon, a pipe swinging four storeys high from a building on St Johns Road in Seaford and many counts of flooding.

While the storm clean-up process is ongoing, warnings are still being issued by the authorities with the news the wed and windy weather is set to continue for the rest of the week, despite cold yet sunny spells on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The Met Office still has two flood warnings and 36 flood alerts in place across the South East. The River Cuckmere, which burst its banks last week, is not considered at risk of any further flooding.

Sussex Police have urged drivers to continue to be extra vigilant on the roads, while the ESFRS have asked people to be careful during the storm clean-up, particularly with electrics.