VIDEO: Storm batters the Gazette area days before Christmas

HOMEOWNERS across the Gazette area have been forced to pick up the pieces after blustery winds and lashing rain battered the coast last night (Monday, December 23).

Winds topping 70 miles per hour uprooted trees and blew down fence panels, with near-torrential rain making for hazardous driving conditions.

A tree collapses on a home in Littlehampton

A tree collapses on a home in Littlehampton

The winds were so strong that a tree in Parkside Avenue, Littlehampton, was blown over crashing into a neighbouring home, in Meadow Way, damaging the property’s guttering and a small portion of the roof.

No one was injured in the incident and firefighters from West Sussex Fire and Rescue have since cordoned the area off, following a safety inspection earlier this morning (Tuesday, December 24).

In Climping, several homes were damaged by the gale-force wind.

Stephen Cotterill, 61, of Apple Tree Walk, had three fence panels ripped out by the gusts.

Fence panels blown down in Climping

Fence panels blown down in Climping

He said: “Winds were rushing about that kept me awake until about half-past four in the morning.

“It was so noisy. The rain was lashing down all night. I had a totally awful night’s sleep.”

He added that previous storms had not affected his property before and said that the power of yesterday’s winds had also damaged fences in his neighbour’s garden.

Commenting on the Gazette’s Facebook site, Chantal Watt, of The Haven, Littlehampton, said: “We have a tree on the garages, seven fence panels down in The Haven. Our journey back from Somerset was terrifying!”

More than 11,000 homes across Sussex were left without electricity as winds damaged power cables.

A spokeswoman from UK Power Networks said about 8,000 homes were, this morning, still without power.

“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 are working to fix,” she explained.

Railway networks were also been affected, with many trains across the south facing cancellations or substantial delays.

The Environment Agency has a flood warning issued for the lower Arun, which includes Arundel, and has urged residents to be vigilant to the potential of flooding, as more rain is forecast for the area in the coming days.

A warning has also been issued by Sussex Police asking people who are thinking of heading away for the festive period to take extra care and allow enough time for their journeys.

Chief Inspector Jim Bartlett from Sussex Police’s operations department said: “Our message to road-users is to be cautious, slow down and allow extra time for your journey and watch out for hazards such as gusts of wind and large puddles that you don’t see in the dark.

“We urge everyone to remain vigilant and advise people not to walk or drive through floodwater.

Chief Inspector Bartlett added: “Please think carefully about whether your journey is essential and if not we would advise you to stay indoors.

“Keep listening to your local radio stations for up-to-date weather and travel advice and if you are out and about, keep safe.”