Gales bring tragedy and disruption

HUNDREDS of people are still without power today after gale force winds hit Suffolk over the weekend. The winds left two people dead in Suffolk when their car was crushed by a falling tree.

THOUSANDS of people are still without power today after gale force winds hit Suffolk over the weekend.

The winds left two people dead in Suffolk when their car was crushed by a falling tree.

EDF Energy confirmed around 7,000 of its customers were left without electricity on Saturday night after gusts of up to 67mph hit the county.

By this morning the number of customers still without power in Suffolk still stood at around 380.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to Yarmouth Road, Lowestoft after a Rover 25 was crushed by a falling tree.

The two occupants – a male and a female – were declared dead at the scene.

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This tragedy came as high winds lashed the county.

Suffolk police said they took 260 calls over a four-hour period relating to the bad weather on Saturday afternoon.

The north of the county was worst affected – although there was some damage in the Ipswich area.

Police had to evacuate houses on either side of a property in Bridge Road, Lowestoft, after its roof collapsed because of damage caused by the high winds.

Firefighters were also called to a tree that fell on a house in Rectory Road, Wortham, near Diss, around 3.50pm.

A falling pine tree brought down power cables, causing cuts to 224 customers in the Sutton and Hasketon area.

Diane Fountain and her son Benjamin, 21, of The Strand, Wherstead, were left for most of the weekend without electricity.

Mrs Fountain lost power cut off on Saturday after, forcing her family to struggle without heat or light.

She said: "The gales blew the television aerial off my roof and on to the power cable.

"I was without power since 5pm on Saturday. I have been using candles and some camping gas. It is cold and it was dark."

Mrs Fountain says she contacted EDF Energy several times, but to no avail.

She said: "Initially I was told someone would be here within four hours and nobody came. Then when I spoke to them at 10.20pm they said they didn't think anyone would come.

"I rang on Sunday morning and they said ring again if I didn't see anybody by lunchtime. I rang again at 1pm. They were very apologetic but they were unable to give any idea when an engineer would be able to some."

The power cuts come little more than a year after bad weather caused power cuts across the county in October 2002.

As 24seven – now EDF Energy - battled for days to reconnect thousands of people, the Evening Star launched a crusade to ensure people were never again left for days without electricity.

EDF Energy was today still working to reconnect about 400 electricity customers.

A spokeswoman said: "Because of the number of faults we are still working on, it will be some time before all supplies are restored. We apologise to all those affected and understand how much disruption power cuts cause.

"Supplies to almost 80 percent of those affected were restored within three hours although some 800 homes across the region have been without power for a second night.

"All our available staff are working to restore supplies to these customers as soon as possible.

"We have brought in contractors and also technicians from the South East region which was not affected by the storms.

"We would like to reassure customers we are doing everything possible to repair these faults as quickly as we can."

She added: "The actual recorded wind speeds (gusts of 67mph in one part of Suffolk) were higher than had been forecast."

The company would be contacting everyone who had been without power for more than 18 hours to offer them a compensation payment.

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