Rural Rother battered by St Jude storm

TREES toppled, power cables were pulled down and train services ground to a halt when a violent storm hit the South East in the early hours of Monday morning.

The St Jude’s storm made its presence felt, with winds of up to 80mph leaving chaos in their wake.

Power was down in towns and villages across Rother, including parts of Battle, Fairlight, Sedlescombe, Guestling Thorn, Winchelsea and Ninfield.

Some properties were left without power for several days as UK Power Networks struggled under the weight of calls.

As well as taking out numerous power cables, falling trees also blocked a number of major roads, including the A21 at John’s Cross and Sedlescombe, the A2100 at Mountfield and the A259 in Rye.

East Sussex Highways deployed 40 work gangs, including tree surgeons, to remove fallen trees, clear gullies and deal with localised flooding on the county’s roads.

As of 9am on Monday, just a few hours after the storm first hit, the crews had cleared around 120 trees across East Sussex.

Roger Williams, East Sussex County Council head of highways, said: “Our crews worked around the clock to ensure we kept disruption to a minimum, working closely with colleagues from other agencies.”

Meanwhile train operator Southern, which is responsible for services in and out of Rye, decided it was taking no chances, suspending pre-9am services.

The storm also caused widespread disruption on the Southeastern-run Hastings to London line.

The company said that throughout Monday, Network Rail cleared more than 50 fallen trees from the tracks across the network and fixed damaged infrastructure equipment.

Refuse collections were suspended across the Rother area on Monday, along with the mobile library service which was due to visit villages in the district.

As a precaution, Battle Abbey closed to visitors until midday.

And over the border in Kent, the Dungeness B nuclear power station shut down two of its reactors for safety reasons.

But EDF Energy, which runs the site, said the public should “absolutely not” be concerned by the shut down.