Thousands without power as storm batters the coast

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Mother Nature wreaked havoc across the South coast once again as 80mph winds and driving rain left roads and rail lines congested and more than 11,900 Sussex homes without power.

Monday and Tuesday saw the worst of the weather, with endless hours of rain causing flooding throughout the town, while there was much disruption on the roads and train networks as hundreds tried to travel home for Christmas.

A fallen tree in Granville Road, Meads following storms in Eastbourne on Christmas Eve. Photo uploaded to Twitter by @nicholasullah

A fallen tree in Granville Road, Meads following storms in Eastbourne on Christmas Eve. Photo uploaded to Twitter by @nicholasullah

Gale-force winds that reached the same strengths as those during Storm St Jude earlier this year hit the coast overnight on Monday, blowing debris and tress onto power lines and causing extensive damage.

UK Power Networks, which delivers power to eight million homes across the South East, drafted in additional staff in the hope of returning power to the 11,975 Sussex homes affected before Christmas Day.

Power supply failure was also one of many reasons Southern Railway was forced to suspend all train services on Christmas Eve, leaving many stranded or severely delayed.

A statement released by Southern on Tuesday morning said, “The stormy weather overnight into the morning caused considerable difficulties for our rail network and the surrounding road network. As a result, several lines of route are suffering from a combination of flooding, blockages from fallen trees, power supply failure or potential landslips.

“We are working closely with our colleagues in Network Rail to prioritise the clearing and proving of routes to be safe before trains can operate.”

Sussex Police issued warnings to car drivers to only travel if completely necessary and even then, to be extra vigilant on the roads due to ‘significant expanses of surface water’ and ‘sudden gusts of wind that may affect control of your vehicle’.

The Environment Agency issued 52 flood warnings in the South East region, where ‘flooding is expected’, and a further 98 flood alerts, where ‘flooding is possible’.

The East Sussex County Council highway’s team cleared more than 200 fallen trees from the roads in the early hours of Christmas Eve and attended to 50 reports of flooding.

Areas of East Sussex recorded some of the highest totals of rainfall, with up to 38.6mm falling between 6pm on Monday and 7am on Tuesday.

At the time of going to press, the Met Office forecast for Christmas Day and Boxing Day was colder but with less windy interludes, overnight frosts, sunny spells and a wintry mix of showers, although another Atlantic depression is expected to bring a further spell of wet and stormy weather on Friday.