Lorries blown over and buildings collapse as Eunice batters Kent
Kent’s first red wind warning has finally been lifted as Storm Eunice moves on from Kent, leaving a trail of distruction in its wake. At the end of a busy day, parts of the A2 and M2 are still closed and contractors are heading out tonight to clear up the trees fallen in the roads. A car has been destroyed after part of a house collapsed
A gas leak and fallen tree has forced the closure of the main road between the A28 for Canterbury and M2 Junction 7 (Brenley Corner) for Faversham. On the Isle of Grain the ferocious winds have taken out one of the power station’s three chimneys.
It’s the first time the Met Office has ever issued a red aleart – the highest wind warning for the county. An amber weather warning remains in place until 9pm this evening and a yellow weather warning applies from 6am to 6pm tomorrow.
A power station chimney came down in Medway Forecasters said the storm will be a “really bad day” for Kent, rivalling weather seen in 1990 and 2009. There have been power and water outages across the county, while a gas leak and fallen cables have shut the A20 London Road between Nepicar Lane and the M20 turn off for Brands Hatch.
By 1pm UK Power Networks had to deal with 46 power cuts in Kent, with many told they would not have power until this evening.
Kent fire service dealt with more than 90 incidents across the county after receiving 300 calls.
A house has partially collapsed in Cromwell Road, Whitstable Picture: Roger Matthews County Square Shopping Centre is closed due to a collapsed roof
Buildings have partially collapsed across the county, while Ashford’s County Square shopping centre has had to close after glass panels were brought down, shattering on the ground. Panels have also been blown from Cineworld in Ashford, with the cinema evacuated and now closed for the rest of the day.
Cineworld in Ashford Picture: Tim Arnold A collapsed building in Northdown Road, Margate Picture: Nard Miller The roof of the Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs
The Medway M2 Bridge has been closed after a lorry was blown onto its side and left leaning precariously against the railings. Rainham resident Claire White passed by and described the situation as “just crazy”. Lorries have also been toppled on Sheppey while one turned up at the Port of Dover missing most of its trailer.
Brielle Way at Queenborough is closed after two were blown off the road. Police say both drivers are uninjured and recovery is expected at about 3pm. The first crashed to the ground at about noon and the second about 20 minutes later.
Both are believed to have been empty.
Two lorries have blown over in Queenborough Picture: John Nurden Queenborough Harbour Picture: John Nurden A truck has blown over on Whiteways at Queenborough.
Picture: Martin Nelson
Huge trees have also come down across the county, including one which stood at 60ft in Juniper Close, Walderslade. The dramatic moment was captured on Mick Harper’s doorbell camera. He was watching a film in his lounge when it happened.
He said: “I heard this big thud sound and assumed something had happened in my drive. “But I then saw people running in the street through the window and went outside to check.” Mick says the tree “fell the right way” missing homes.
Luckily cars which are usually parked close by were not there. When he watched the doorbell footage, he “couldn’t believe it”.
A tree down in Sowell Street, Broadstairs Picture: Heidi Rogers
The owner of a house “blown apart” in Chatham has spoken of her disbelief at seeing the damage. Katherine Wareham has rented out the end-of-terrace property in Beaconsfield Road, Chatham, for the past 17 years.
She was called at around 1pm to be told the wind had seriously damaged the home and it was in danger of collapsing. She said: “I was just astounded when I got there and saw the hole in the gable end and being able to see into the house from the outside. “The tenants told me that they heard a rumbling sound and then the wall collapsed. “Thankfully nobody was hurt, but they can’t go back in there; they’ll have to stay in a hotel tonight.”
Mrs Wareham, who lives in Catterick Road, Lordswood, says the house is in danger of collapsing and will likely have to be demolished. Elsewhere in Medway, the Subway at Gillingham Pier has been forced to close after part of the roof came off and crashed to the ground outside its front door.
Kerry Hall took this photo after part of the roof came off the building housing Subway at Gillingham Pier
Staff, who were inside serving customers at the time, have been told not to go outside the front until it is declared safe. The business will be closed until further notice with workers being escorted out of the rear of the building.
A staff member said: “Thankfully nobody was hurt.” The cladding on Dungeness nuclear power station was also being ripped off this afternoon. Debris has been sent flying down Watling Street in Chatham after fencing around the old fire station collapsed.
Neighbour Nicole Fox said “They had a large fence up around the site where they demolished the old fire station. They’ve been using it as a temporary area for the ambulances. “The fences tore down and sent debris flying everywhere.”
A tree came crashing down among parked cars and blocking the road in Stuart Road, Gillingham.
A tree blocking the road in Stuart Road, Gillingham.
Picture: Ben Willer
A willow tree has come down in Mountfield Close, Gravesend blocking three driveways and just missing residents’ cars. Caroline Moody who lives in the street said: “We were just laying in bed and we heard the wind howling but then we heard a tree hit the window. “There is an old willow tree near my car.
It has literally snapped in half. It is blocking the driveways. “It has not hit our car or hurt anybody.
It has got a lot of branches that are blowing around like a hurricane.” Jurors at Maidstone Crown Court have been told to stay at home meaning all ongoing trials have been adjourned, although an entire jury did turn up regardless. And a fallen tree in Hermitage Lane has caused delays for people getting to Maidstone Hospital.
Further afield airlines have cancelled flights and City airport is closed. Heathrow and Gatwick are monitoring the situation, with more than 200,000 people tuning in to watch live coverage of pilots battling the winds at the former. While the O2 Arena’s roof has been ripped to shreds by Eunice.
Meanwhile the transport network has ground to a halt, with all Southeastern train services cancelled. Bosses at the rail company say those with train ticket tickets for today will be able to use them tomorrow (Saturday) at no extra charge, or they can apply for a refund.
?? Good morning – just a reminder we are advising passengers not to travel today unless you absolutely have to.
— Network Rail Kent & Sussex (@NetworkRailSE) February 18, 2022
Highways England has warned drivers of high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes to avoid exposed roads like the A2 Jubilee Way at Dover, the M2 between Junctions 2 and 3 and the Sheppey Crossing. Motorists were hit by major delays as the Dartford Crossing and the M2 bridge shut.
Sheppey Crossing reopened at around 6.30pm. Stagecoach has decided to suspend bus services in Kent and East Sussex from 10am with the exception of some vital services from the major hospitals in the region. A spokesman said “We’ve asked our drivers on the road to complete their journey and then head back to the depot, ensuring that anyone on board is taken to where they need to be.
“We expect to resume services again from 2pm today. We will be posting updates on our website and Twitter feed with the latest information and advice.”
Waves in Dover (54983527)
Video: Barry Goodwin At Dover, where images and videos captured fearsome waves crashing to shore, all ferry crossings were cancelled for a few hours due to concerns for customer safety.
Services began again at around 4pm. And with Euroutunnel also reporting lengthy delays lorries were queuing for two miles along the M20 and A2.
Lorries are backed up for nearly two miles to gain entrance to the Eurotunnel near Folkestone Picture: Barry Goodwin A fallen tree blocks the public footpath to Westenhanger railway station Picture: Barry Goodwin
Smaller crossing like Tilbury on the Thames have also shut. National Highways head of road safety Jeremy Phillips said: “We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve.
“If you do intend to travel, then plan your journey and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey. “In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.”
A tree collapsed on a van in Brogdale Road, Faversham Picture: James O’Toole
Attractions and major shopping centres across the county are closed, with many making the call yesterday. The University of Kent has told students and staff to stay away from its Medway campus.
Winds are expected to reach up to 80mph through the morning, before the blustery conditions begin to ease in the afternoon.
Additional tree surgeons will be on duty throughout the day to help clear blocked roads.
Listen to kmfm for travel updates throughout the morning.