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Weekend winds were 'the worst' in years

Two-hundred trees were blown down in stormy weather at the weekend causing disruption, power cuts and damage to homes and cars

Alistair Wilson
A fallen tree on Hawley Lane, Blackwater

Hampshire was left battered and bruised this week after howling winds and heavy rain swept across the south east on Valentine's Day.

Power cuts hit 22,500 homes around Aldershot following Friday night's storm and one Camberley resident said it was "the worst" he could recall in years.

Winds of up to 80mph hit Hampshire, blowing down trees and branches and interfering with power supplies.

Power was returned to all households by lunchtime on Monday (February 17) after engineers, linesmen, tree-cutters and support staff set to work.

About 200 trees came down across the county during what was the latest spell of bad weather.

In Eversley, a tree fell next to Gawthorpes Saddlery leading to the closure of the top of Chequers Lane on Saturday morning. The A327 was also closed for most of the morning.

In Yateley, a large tree fell across Vigo Lane and another across Handford Lane, preventing access for motorists.

Cllr Shawn Dickens, of Eversley Parish Council, said: “Six houses in Up Green and adjoining Chequers Lane had no power for 24 hours.

“What I can say with three children, is it was interesting to see how twitchy they are without electronic devices to keep themselves occupied.

“My youngest asked us what happens when the power comes back on. I said a large siren goes off and we all clap. We forget this Noughties generation has never been without power and computers.

“Interesting challenge for the family, but I hope it doesn’t happen again soon.”

Cars 'flattened'

Drains in Hearsey Gardens in Blackwater have been overflowing as a result of the heavy rainfall.

Resident Hannah-Lucy Robinson, said: “It has been horrific. We are worried about the water coming inside the house.

“It’s not the point whether we are insured. We had 14 sandbags delivered to Hearsey Gardens, but that is not enough when there are 50 houses down our road.”

Firefighters were called after a tree fell on the roof of a house in Brownsover Road, in Cove, on Friday night and a tree also came crashing down on parked cars in Camberley during the early hours of Saturday.

Elmhurst Court resident Nick Bullen, 73, snapped a picture of the dramatic aftermath, which he said wrecked two cars, a silver BMW and a black 4x4.

“We were out at the time but when we saw the damage, it became clear just how stormy it had been,” he said. “The wind completely uprooted the tree, which flattened one car and punctured through the roof of the other.

“The tree surgeons came along on Saturday and sorted it out and the cars have since been taken away.”

Mr Bullen added in his seven years living in Camberley, the weekend’s gales were ‘the worst’ he could recall since the roof of Elmhurst Court in Heathcote Road was ripped off by severe winds in January 2007.

Flood relief work

The Basingstoke Canal Authority strongly advised people not to use the towpath or navigation last Friday and Saturday because of the high winds and heavy rainfall.

For the same reason it closed its canalside car parks at Reading Road South in Fleet and Crookham Wharf in Crookham Village, only opening them again on Tuesday morning.

The canal authority’s campsite at the Canal Centre in Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett remains closed due to a waterlogged field.

Betty Hansell, visitor services officer, said: “We are reviewing the situation on a weekly basis but every time we think the field might just be able to take vehicles or tents, it rains again and we are back to square one.”

Helping with the wider weather problems, an RAF Odiham Chinook flew soldiers and equipment to the Isle of Wight on Saturday. Crewed by members of Odiham’s 27 Squadron, the helicopter dropped 22 Reservists from 7th Battalion, The Rifles to flooded areas on the island.

It returned later the same day with two military Land Rovers, their drivers and equipment.

RAF Odiham station commander, Group Captain Richard Maddison, said it was a fantastic example of the adaptability and capability of the Chinook force and its support personnel.

“The aircraft, however, would not be able to reach its true versatility without the support of the thousands of service and civilian personnel stationed at RAF Odiham,” he added.

“Everyone, be it aircrew or engineers, administrators or caterers, pull together to achieve one aim, and that is to enable the Chinook force to be able to provide this level of support to the British public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

 

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