Storm Eunice: Homes still without power as cost of clean-up operation could cost more than £300million

Hundreds of thousands of homes are still without power after Storm Eunice tore through the country, while insurers have indicated the clean-up could cost more than £300 million.

By Jon Peake
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 2:47 pm

At least four people were killed in the UK and Ireland during one of the worst storms in decades, with a gust of 122mph provisionally recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, which, if verified, would be the highest ever in England.

Clean-up efforts could also be hindered by wet, windy and in some places snowy weather moving in over the weekend, the Met Office has warned.

In an update on Saturday morning, the Energy Networks Association said around 226,000 customers remained without power, while some 1.2 million had been reconnected.

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Storm Eunice left a trail of devastation in its wake

Around 60,000 customers are still without power in the South of England, 58,000 in the South East, 55,000 in the South West, 35,000 in Eastern England and about 15,000 in South Wales, ENA said.

Energy minister Greg Hands has said more than one million people have had their electricity restored, and shared a support line for anyone still facing power cuts.

He said in a tweet: "Electricity networks have worked throughout the night and this morning to restore power to homes across the UK.

"More than one million customers have now had their electricity restored.

"However, we know many are still without supply.

"My department remains in regular contact with electricity networks and operators about ensuring supplies are restored as swiftly as possible.

"Anyone in need of support should call their network operator on 105 or contact: www.powercut105.com/findoperator".

At the height of the storm, planes struggled to land in high winds, the roof of the O2 Arena in London was damaged, and the spire of St Thomas Church in Wells, Somerset, crashed to the ground.

The Association of British Insurers warned previous similar storms have cost around £360 million in repairs.

A spokesperson said: "It is too early to estimate the likely insured cost of Storm Eunice, when insurers will be focusing on assessing damage and helping their customers recover.

"No two storms are the same. The last significant storms to hit the UK - Ciara and Dennis - led to insurers paying out over £360 million."

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind covering the entire south coast and south-west Wales until 6pm on Saturday, and a yellow snow warning for parts of northern England from 11am until 3pm.

On Sunday, a yellow warning for wind is in place for England, Wales, and south-west Scotland, while a yellow rain warning covers Lancashire and Cumbria.

Meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said Eunice was one of the worst storms in decades.

"The 122mph statistic was a new provisional record for England in terms of wind gusts," he said.

"But it's also about how widespread the storm was, so we will be looking at whether this storm was worse than the Burns Night storm (in 1990), or the one in 1987 when gusts were around 80 to 90mph - but the damage may have been more widespread."

Mr Dewhurst added that gusts reached 70mph at Heathrow, where planes struggled to land and thousands of people tuned in to watch on YouTube channel Big Jet TV, and 59mph in inner-city London.

He warned travellers to brace for more windy weather in the coming days.

"We'll see gusts through the day of up to 40 to 60mph, particularly around the coasts," Mr Dewhurst said.

"This will have an impact on the clearing up process over the course of the day.

"We will see a slight easing in the wind over the evening time tonight but it's not long before they pick up again tomorrow to lead to another windy day across the UK.

Hundreds of journeys were cancelled on Friday as people were told to stay at home, and National Rail has warned there is still "major disruption" to services "across most of Great Britain".

Train networks were disrupted by flying debris, while there was damage to buildings and homes.

A 79-year-old British man has died in Ypres, Belgium, after his boat was blown into a waterway amid high winds, according to local reports.

Three people died in the UK and one in Ireland, and many more were injured.

A woman in her 30s died after a tree fell on a car in Haringey, north London, on Friday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police said.

In Netherton, Merseyside, a man in his 50s died after debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in.

A man in his 20s was killed in Alton, Hampshire, after a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter pick-up collided with a tree in Old Odiham Road.

In Co Wexford, Ireland, a man was also killed by a falling tree.

London Fire Brigade said it took 1,958 calls on Friday as Storm Eunice hit the capital - three times more than the previous day.

The service tweeted: "Although the worst of #StormEunice is over its affect may extend into the coming days. Please be aware of the potential for loose structures or falling debris".

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