Family's terror in the night

THE early hours of October 16, 1987 brought a Great Storm to the east of England which many remember today. In the first of our dramatic series leading up to the 20th anniversary of that date, PAUL GEATER catches up with a family whose roof was ripped off - leaving them homeless for a year.

THE early hours of October 16, 1987 brought a Great Storm to the east of England which many remember today. In the first of our dramatic series leading up to the 20th anniversary of that date, PAUL GEATER catches up with a family whose roof was ripped off - leaving them homeless for a year.

TANIA Wright will never forget the great storm of 1987 - a storm which ripped the roof off the home she shared with her family.

At the time Tania was an 18-year-old teenager living with her parents in Annbrook Road in Ipswich and can vividly recall the events of the early hours of October 16.

She said: “It was really frightening. I was first woken up by the sound of the wind at about one or two in the morning.

“We looked out and there was a lot of noise - but we stayed in bed because it seemed safer there. We had no idea what was going to happen.”

The storm intensified and it became clear that the house was going to be badly damaged.

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Tania remembered: “My father came and got us downstairs because my parents were worried about the roof of the house.

“At the time I was most concerned about my dancing trophies - that's the most important thing to an 18-year-old!”

Eventually her father, Mick Masters, felt the family should get out of the house and go to a neighbour's home which was not so badly damaged.

“My mum had run across the road and I was waiting to follow her. As I waited a huge bit of the roof came down. I was terrified, but I just had to run around it and got away,” said Tania.

The roof was taken of their house and several others in Annbrook Road.

The homes had been built on high ground and the construction method used in the 1960s had meant the wind could get under the roof and lift it off.

“There was a mess all along the street. The repairs took a long time to sort out,” Tania remembers.

The family were not able to return to their home about a year - they had to live in two rented properties while their home was repaired.

“It was a dreadful mess, the walls got wet and the whole house had to be redecorated and the furniture was ruined.

“But my dancing trophies were all right - that was very important to me!”

She still lives in the area, in Pheasant Road, and hopes to never see a storm like that again.

“It was really frightening. It made me worried for ages - I really hope we never get anything like that again,” she said.

ERIC Ward, of St Johns Road in Ipswich, was a medical representative in 1987 and remembers trying to make early calls to surgeries on the morning of the storm.

He recalls: “I got up early to drive to Martlesham and Alderton surgeries to get there before 9am and was quite unaware of the devastation.”

He was unable to get to Alderton through Rendlesham forest, but had to make further deliveries further afield.

“I did continue up to Norfolk with many diversions and wished I had stayed at home!” he recalled.

COLIN Whitmore is secretary of the Suffolk Vehicle Enthusiasts Club and recalls that on the Sunday following the storm, the Club was due to go on an Autumn run.

He said: “Needless to say this had to be abandoned due to the numerous closed roads.

“The following year the Autumn run was planned and it was decided to call it the Hurricane Anniversary Run. We have commemorating this event every year since i.e. this will be the 20th Hurricane Anniversary Run. As far as I am aware we are the only group to have done this!”

The organiser plans a route which remains a mystery to participants, who follow navigation notes and have a sealed envelope containing the lunch stop venue - to be opened if you get lost. After lunch, members go to a place of interest.

Colin said: “This year's run will be on Sunday and will start from the Royal Harwich Yacht Club at Woolverstone where we hold our monthly meetings, at 9am.”

N

What are your What are your memories of the 1987 Great Storm?

Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

N Tomorrow: Paul reveals his own memories of the day spent gathering the news.

19 people died across the country.

15 million trees were brought down.

The strongest wind in Suffolk was 88mph at USAF Woodbridge.

The strongest gust recorded anywhere in the country was 122 mph at Gorleston in Norfolk.

The town of Sevenoaks in Kent lost six of the trees that gave it its name!

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