Storms cause major power cuts

HOMES and businesses were left without power for up to 24 hours following raging storms on Tuesday morning.

Fallen trees and flash flooding were reported across the Battle area as strong winds and heavy rain battered the region.

Scrays Farm at Whatlington was left without power for 24 hours after the storms caused damage to overhead power cables just before 11.20am.

John Conlin, who lives on the farm on the A21, was left frustrated by the lack of communication from UK Power Networks over the day-long power outage.

Speaking to the Observer early on Wednesday morning, Mr Conlin said the company had still not yet sent an engineer to sort out the problem.

He said: “At first they said it was an overhead power cable, then they said it was a substation problem.

“We are 22 hours into a power failure and still no engineer in sight.

“We have been relying on torches, but we are starting to run out of batteries.

“Twenty-two hours is beyond the safe time for fridges and freezers too.”

He added: “The lack of information is the frustrating point.

“If they had told us yesterday afternoon they did not have the staff to get out and sort the problem out, one could have made alternative plans.

“You call them, go through a horrendously long automated service before getting a human voice who has no idea where Whatlington is because they are perhaps sitting behind a screen in Manchester.”

But just two hours after a phonecall from the Observer, a UK Power Networks engineer had fixed the problem and Mr Conlin received an apology from the company.

A spokesperson from UK Power Networks said: “Electricity supplies were restored to customers in Whatlington at 11.35am on Wednesday once repairs were completed to the overhead electricity network following storm-related damage.

“Once again, we are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and we thank customers for their understanding.”

Around 10 customers experienced an interruption to their power supply in the area, but UK Power Networks said the ‘vast majority’ saw their supplies restored quickly.

Meanwhile 628 homes and businesses in the Spring Lane area of Burwash, including National Trust property Bateman’s, were left without power when a fallen tree took down electricity wires at around 10.25am on Tuesday.

Most supplies were reconnected by just after 1pm, with the final 78 homes and businesses seeing their power restored by 4.20pm.

The high winds also caused a headache for police officers, who were inundated with reports of fallen trees.

Sergeant Paul Masterson said: “We had in the region of 12 or 13 trees down at the same time across the Battle area and it really stretched our resources to the limit.”

All the trees came down within a three or four hour period, partially blocking roads in Ashburnham, Staplecross, Sedlescombe and Hurst Green.

And Whatlington Road in Whatlington was closed to traffic for more than four hours after a large tree blocked the road in both directions.

Sgt Masterson said: “Some of our officers were out for long periods of time in horrendous weather conditions and the public rallied round and kept us topped up with tea and helped move trees and clear roads.

“My team is very appreciative of efforts from members of the public.”