Wild winds stretch services to the limit

SUFFOLK in the sun today was counting the cost of a day of chaos.Emergency services yesterday were stretched to the limit as they were called to traffic accidents, boughs in roads, and damaged buildings.

By Paul Geater

SUFFOLK in the sun today was counting the cost of a day of chaos.

Emergency services yesterday were stretched to the limit as they were called to traffic accidents, boughs in roads, and damaged buildings.

Gusts reached 80mph in the county, causing chaos on the roads and the closure of the Orwell bridge, and rail services were cancelled.

Police had to close the A1214 between Martlesham and Ipswich because a tree close to a churchyard near the Bell pub looked likely to fall across the dual carriageway.

Brickwork from St Vincent House in Cutler Street, Ipswich, started falling in to the street at about 1pm.

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Fire crews were called to evacuate the street and cordon off the area as another strip of brickwork was threatening to peel away from the high office block.

Building inspectors were called in to assess the damage and roads surrounding the area including St Nicholas Street, and Franciscan Way had to be closed off, which led to congestion in the centre of Ipswich. The closure of the Orwell Bridge also led to a build-up of traffic.

In Bury St Edmunds, pieces of the historic Moyses Hall museum roof ripped away by the winds rained down on the pedestrian area.

Tree surgeons and council workers were out collecting debris including traffic signs which had been ripped from their standards, and sweeping up glass from smashed windows.

However there were few problems reported by Thames Coastguard who found that boat-owners had taken heed of the weather warning.

Instead, coastguards had to deal with boats which had come away from their moorings in the fierce winds.

Michael and Jennifer King watched as tiles rained down on their car in Curry's car park at Copdock, smashing the windscreen, side window and piercing the roof.

Police shut part of Sea Road, Felixstowe, after loose tiling was reported on the leisure centre roof.

After the Orwell Bridge was closed, traffic was diverted through the town centre which caused long delays.

Fallen trees blocked Foxhall Road and Tuddenham Road in Ipswich, and firefighters were called to deal with a shed blowing around on the Pinewood estate.

A fallen tree brought traffic to a standstill on the A12 northbound carriageway at the Grundisburgh roundabout, Woodbridge.

Traffic lights blew over at Sproughton and a mobile transmitter came down at Wangford.

A fallen tree smashed the rear windows and lights of a car parked in the front garden at pensioner Ted Coult's house in Garrison Lane, Felixstowe.

A dredger three miles off Aldeburgh collected one of two sailing dinghies that had come adrift from the town's yacht club.

The Port of Felixstowe was closed as high winds prevented cranes from lifting containers.

Pleasurewood Hills theme park in Lowestoft was also closed because of the gusts on its last day of half-term opening.

The historic "crinkle crankle" wall at Chandos Lodge, Eye, former home of ballet choreography Sir Frederick Ashton, was seriously damaged by the winds.

A doctors' surgery is likely to be closed for more than a week after a 50-foot tree crashed through the roof.

The tree hit the Mill Surgery in Church Lane, Boxford, yesterday afternoon.

Patients of the surgery are now being told to use the Hadleigh health centre in Market Place, Hadleigh, while repairs are carried out.

No-one was hurt in the incident. Assistant manager Tracey Chisnall said: "The tree went straight through the roof and in to the surgery.

"It is all wet everywhere and is unsafe.

"We want to tell all our patients to come to the Hadleigh surgery if they need to see a doctor."

The surgery has around 3,000 patients on its books. For further information call the Hadleigh health centre on 01473 822961.

Two east Suffolk schools were closed today because they were still without power.

Pupils from Holbrook and East Bergholt high schools had an extra day's half-term because there was no electricity this morning.

Several rural primary schools also gave their pupils an extra day off because of the on-going problems.

Those at Grundisburgh, Bawdsey, Hollesley, Whatfield, and Great Waldingfield were among those affected.

Many schools had already planned to be closed today for staff training, but yesterday's storms gave thousands of pupils the chance to take advantage of the good weather today.

Although Suffolk Coastal council was not able to close The Grove in Felixstowe during yesterday's storm, Ipswich council did shut down the parks it felt posed the greatest risks.

Christchurch, Holywells, Alexandra, and Stone Lodge parks were all off-limits to the public during the storm.

They were due to be re-opened today once safety experts had checked them out.

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