Storm: Four People Killed By Falling Trees

October 29th, 20136:17 am @


Four people have been killed by falling trees in the worst storm to hit Britain in a decade.

Bethany Freeman, 17, died after a 30ft tree fell onto a static caravan in which she was sleeping in Kent while Donal Drohan, 51, died after a tree hit his car as he drove through Watford, Hertfordshire.

The family of Mr Drohan, from Harrow, northwest London, said he was the “best husband and father anyone could wish for”.

Bethany Freeman and Donal Drohan both died from falling trees

The father-of-three was an operations manager with the public realm service at Harrow Council.

Bethany, known as “Gia” to her friends, died in Hever, Edenbridge. Emergency services and neighbours tried to rescue the Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School pupil. 

Her family, who were sleeping in a neighbouring caravan, were said to be deeply traumatised by the accident.

The caravan in which Bethany Freeman was sleeping when it was hit by a tree

They had been living in the mobile homes for a year while outbuildings on the grounds were transformed into a new house.

Her driving instructor Neil Chapman turned up at the address unaware of the tragedy and said: “I can’t believe it. What a shock. She was a super kid. She was a great girl, good fun … her family must be so devastated. I can’t believe it.”

Bethany’s school described her as “a dedicated and truly outstanding sportswoman” who was “universally respected” and “had everything to look forward to”.

The body of the storm’s third and fourth victims – a man in his 40s and a woman – were found at addresses in Hounslow, west London, which were devastated after a tree struck a gas main which led to an explosion.

Three people were taken to hospital following the blast in Bath Road, which destroyed three houses and damaged two others.

A man and a woman who suffered facial injuries were later discharged. Another woman was said to be still receiving treatment for burns.

A map showing the passage of the storm’s centre and trail of destruction

Fire crews rescued a dog from one of the homes and some 12 people were evacuated from neighbouring premises as a precaution.

A 14-year-old boy, named locally as Dylan Alkins, is also feared dead after being swept out to sea on Sunday in Newhaven, East Sussex.

Up to 607,500 homes suffered power cuts as hurricane-speed winds of up to 100mph swept across the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England.

People climb over a fallen tree in Shepherd’s Hill, north London

UK Power Networks said 92,000 properties in the East and 15,000 in the South East were still without power.

The Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent automatically shut down both reactors after power to the site was cut off.

Gusts of 99mph were recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, according to the Met Office, while the Environment Agency said some 16 flood warnings and 134 flood alerts were in place.

Winds topped 80mph along southern coastal areas and became turbulent inland reaching 81mph in Portland, Dorset, 75mph in Yeovilton in Somerset and 79mph at Andrewsfield in Essex.

A tree crashes through several homes in Hounslow Pic: London Fire Brigade

Some 50mm of rainfall in 12 hours was recorded in Otterbourne in Hampshire and about 44mm in Cardiff.

Fierce winds overturned a double-decker into a field in Coram Street, Hadleigh in Suffolk, injuring the driver and several passengers.

The driver, a man in his 40s, was initially trapped and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

A police spokesman said: “He was suffering from neck pain, had taken a bash to his head and was in and out of consciousness.”

Whitehall was closed in both directions in Westminster, London, after a crane collapsed onto the Cabinet Office, which was evacuated.

A bus carrying passengers is blown over onto its side in Hadleigh, Suffolk

A helter-skelter at Clacton Pier in Essex was blown over by the storm, but did not fall into the sea.

Rush-hour commuters suffered chaos on the roads and train network, with falling trees and debris blocking roads and covering railway tracks.

Network Rail said: “Trains will not be allowed to run until the worst of the storm has passed and engineers have been able to check railway lines … branches or any other debris which may have blown onto or damaged the infrastructure.”

Several London Underground and train services were suspended, the port of Dover in Kent temporarily shut after gusts of 65 knots were recorded in the area, and more than 130 flights at Heathrow Airport were cancelled because of the weather.

Scaffolding has been blown down in Francis Road, Leyton Pic: Mark Davies

Dover Port said its Western Docks had borne the brunt of the storm with around 50 Fred Olsen cruise customer cars, parked at the terminal, damaged by the severe seas in the high winds, which at times were gusting above 70mph.

The Environment Agency said there were 11 flood warnings in place across the South West, the Midlands and the East of England. There were also 124 flood alerts telling people to be prepared for flooding.

It has teams working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who held talks with Government departments and agencies at the weekend to ensure they were prepared for the impact of the storm, said the loss of life as a result of St Jude’s storm was “hugely regrettable”.

A tree crashes onto a London bus Pic: @Casawa2011

He said the Government was working to make sure that the emergency services were able to do as much as possible to provide assistance.

Mr Cameron said: “Any injury or loss of life is hugely regrettable. We have to make sure the emergency services can act as fast as they can to help people.”

AA insurance said calls for car insurance claims were about 20% higher than normal, with claims ranging from falling trees to scaffolding collapse.

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