Weather leaves trail of damage

STRONG winds hit Suffolk today leaving a trail of damage in its wake.Trees were blown down, debris was scattered across roads, people were left without power and damage was caused to buildings and cars.

STRONG winds hit Suffolk today leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

Trees were blown down, debris was scattered across roads, people were left without power and damage was caused to buildings and cars.

In Capel St Mary people watched in amazement as part of the roof was ripped off the village's Co-op Store.

Manager David Bathie heard a loud bang but hadn't realised a 70ft x 10ft length of wooden cladding had been ripped away by the winds.

It was only when his night manager telephoned to say the police had phoned her that Mr Bathie ventured outside and found police officers.

He said: "After I got the phone call I went out the front door to find the policemen there. The roof looked okay until I went round the corner. The cladding had all come off in one big piece."

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He said the brick structure of the building was intact, but electricians had arrived by 8.15am to fix live wires left exposed on the wall, which supplied the power for outside lights. The Co-op was open as usual today.

Trees and telegraph poles, uprooted by the force of the gales, were left strewn across roads all over the county causing obstructions for drivers.

Traffic in Needham Market was diverted after a tree was blown over, blocking a road. The large ivy-clad tree at the rear of Pinecroft Way brought down a power line as it fell across the B1113.

The tree fell close to a railway bridge and narrowly missed power cables over the railway line.

On the A140, at its junction with the B1078 at Coddenham, cones and temporary road signs, put in place while roadworks are carried out, were blown across the carriageway.

And traffic was being escorted across the Orwell Bridge due to the danger of vehicles being over turned.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police warned that all drivers should take care on the roads today as a result of the winds.

He said: "High sided vehicles in particular need to be extra careful in these high winds. Drivers should slow down a bit and very much take the conditions into account."

At about 8.50am a tree also fell on to the Felixstowe bound track of railway at Cemetery Road, in Ipswich. It was removed by 9.15am by a Railtrack production supervisor.

Thousands of homes and businesses in the Hadleigh and Boxford area were left without power as a result of the wind and pupils at Stoke-by-Nayland Primary School were told to stay at home as the school was closed due to a lack of electricity.

A spokesman for 24Seven said: "There have been 25 faults across the region today although at the moment the worst problems are in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and up to Norfolk.

"However, early today, at about 7.15am, there was a power cut effecting 2,108 customers in Hadleigh. It is hoped that by re-routing the source, the power will be back by 11am. A sub station pole is defective at Orwell Station as well."

"Overhead wires have been worst effected," he added.

In Ipswich some of the stalls holders at the market were forced to stay away by the high wind today.

Traders had warned before that the Civic Centre car park acted like a wind tunnel - and today the wind was so strong that some were forced to pack up. The grocery stall was almost blown away before it was packed up, and the clothing stall didn't come to town at all.

"It's really just ourselves, the fruit and veg stalls, and a couple of others that have made it today," said fishmonger Mike Young, chairman of the traders' co-operative which runs the market.

"It's really very difficult here today, almost dangerous. This is one of the reasons why we never want to come back here once we've got on to the Cornhill."

In Felixstowe the Port was closed overnight as winds off the coast gusted to gale-force seven.

Most lorry drivers had heeded weather warnings and stayed away, rather than have to wait in queues on the quayside or the A14.

At breakfast-time the port was still closed but officials said there was plenty of space in container parks and other storage areas for truckers to park-up and wait for the port to re-open, and no congestion problems in the roads around the 700-acre complex.

Cranes cannot operate once winds reach 50mph and the port, Britain's busiest container terminal, has been forced to halt quayside operations several times in recent weeks.

The disruption today was due to strong westerly winds.

Evening Star weathermen Ken Blowers said the wind would at times not be far off hurricane force.

He said: "This is a westerly gale that at times will increase to 65mph to 70mph, reaching its peak at about noon. Hurricane force is 75mph so it won't be far off at times.

"It'll gradually get worse until noon and then will gradually and slowly decrease."