WATCH: Suffolk residents relive catastrophic Great Storm of 1987

The Great Storm of 1987, the morning after. Picture: PAUL NICHOLS

The Great Storm of 1987, the morning after. Picture: PAUL NICHOLS - Credit:

Chaos and destruction ravaged East Anglia as the most devastating storm of the century battered buildings, landmarks and forests 30 years ago.

Killing 18 people, flattening 15 million trees and leaving much of Britain without power, the Great Storm of 1987 was a catastrophic phenomenon remembered vividly by those who witnessed it.

Large swathes of Suffolk and Essex were hit by ferocious 110mph winds on the night of October 15 – paralysing road networks, electricity systems and telephone wires.

Trees ripped through overhead power lines, leaving many without power for days and leaving many communities off.

Sue Lloyd Brace and her family – who lived in Gulpher Road, Felixstowe – were forced to move out of their home for six weeks.

She said: “We had no electricity, and had to have a new roof, gable end and windows from where they had blown in.”

Thousands of people had been evacuated from nearby Felixstowe Port, while hurricane-force gales tossed around aircraft as if they were toys at Ipswich Airport, causing £100,000 worth of damage.

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Rendlesham, Tunstall, Thetford and Stour Wood forests became a danger zone with residents warned to stay away – all four were classed as “extremely dangerous” in the eye of the storm.

Eastern Electricity engineers grappled with repairing an electricity system which had been severely damaged within hours.

Some heavy sleepers admitted to dozing through the storm – but woke up to discover a region in chaos.

Others had experiences that jolted them awake – EADT political writer Paul Geater was almost electrocuted.

He said: “I went to a large house in the Friston/Knodishall area near Saxmundham where I heard a tree had crashed into the bedroom.

“When I got there I was shown around by the owner and there was a 36Kv cable lying on the ground awkwardly.

“The owner said; ‘Just move that, Eastern (Electricity) have been around and switched them all off.’

As I bent down to pick it up, a leaf blew down and touched it – instantly crackling and burst into flames.

“A second earlier and I would have been electrocuted!”