Chaos as rural Rother hit by fierce 80mph winds

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THERE was little Christmas cheer to be found on Christmas Eve, after high winds and heavy rain on Monday night left a trail of destruction across rural Rother.

A number of villages lost power, including Crowhurst, Sedlescombe, Catsfield and Ninfield, while residents in Robertsbridge were told to expect flooding.

Winds approaching 80mph brought down a large tree in Crowhurst, which took out power cables.

Camilla Lake, of Ballards Hill, said: “Christmas could be cancelled in Crowhurst.

“The turkey, which cost £50, is currently getting warm in the fridge and we have no way of cooking it. We have family coming over on Christmas Day.

“We had to use candles last night.”

Sarah Blackford of Upper Wilting Farm, well known locally for selling Christmas turkeys, said: “The power went off last night, it must have been 8.30-9pm.

“Luckily our chiller works off a diesel engine so we have been able to keep our turkeys cold.

“We don’t have many turkeys left now, the last people are picking up today, and there should be 40 to go.

“But whether they will be able to cook them, or not? I have heard someone in the village was told we might have the power back tomorrow morning.

“But we could have nothing to eat and can’t even boil a kettle.”

Across the south east, 11,975 homes were without power on Christmas Eve morning.

A spokesperson from UK Power Networks said: “The electricity network is built to be resilient however high winds blowing debris and trees onto overhead power lines overnight have caused extensive damage - which engineers will be working to fix.”

Flood warnings were issued for Crowhurst and Robertsbridge, with the Environment Agency warning of the possibility of flooding of homes and businesses.

Robertsbridge’s flood defences were deployed at 9am on Christmas Eve and villagers were gathering sandbags in an effort to protect their homes.

Monday night proved a busy night for Battle’s firefighters.

The crew were called out to Ticehurst at 5.40pm following reports of a tree falling on to power cables.

They then headed to Hastings to help crews with a report of flooding at a home in Cornwallis Terrace at around 7pm.

Just before 10pm a dangerous shop sign was reported in Battle High Street.

And a passerby called firefighters to Robertsbridge after spotting smoke in the One Stop shop just before 11pm.

It is believed the store’s security system, which releases a blanket of smoke if someone tries to break in, was triggered by the weather.

And crews were back in action again just after 8am on Christmas Eve, pumping water out of the Corner House Dental Practice in Battle, following overnight flooding.