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Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 10:05 GMT


South coast counts cost of storms

The historic pier at Bognor Regis suffered serious storm damage

People on the south coast of England are counting the cost of atrocious weather after a day of floods, driving rain and strong winds.

A massive clean-up operation was underway on Monday from Cornwall to Kent following the freak weather which left many villages under water, trees felled, and an historic pier severely damaged.

Weather forecast
Families were evacuated from their homes and firefighters pumped gallons of water from houses and shops, almost a year to the day since Britain's last severe floods.

The Grade II listed Bognor Regis pier, in West Sussex, was sealed off after a 90ft section of the structure was washed into the sea when force eight south-westerly winds hit the region.

But fears that sea defences would be breached again by a second high tide during the night were not realised.

Power lines brought down

The Meteorological Office said conditions had eased in the area with the storms moving northwards into parts of Wales, northern England and Scotland.

[ image: South coast bore the brunt of the gales]
South coast bore the brunt of the gales
Sussex and Kent bore the brunt of the 60mph winds and torrential rain which brought down power lines in Kent, causing blackouts.

Many roads in both counties were blocked by fallen trees.

A police spokesman said a number of homes in Normans Bay and Pevensey in East Sussex were evacuated by firefighters and a caravan park in Selsey, West Sussex, was also evacuated after being flooded by 18 inches of water.

He said: "This had the potential to become a very serious major incident but thankfully the conditions have eased."

A Royal Navy fisheries protection vessel, HMS Shetland, went to the aid of a yacht taking on water off the coast of Ramsgate, Kent, in the severe weather.

A Coastguard spokesman said the Shetland, a 1,250-tonne vessel, went to the aid of the 65ft yacht, the King's Legend, until a lifeboat arrived from Ramsgate.

Bad month for floods

The yacht's eight crew were not injured and were escorted ashore on Sunday evening.

[ image: Storms flooded roads and felled trees]
Storms flooded roads and felled trees
The floods surged across the south of England on Sunday, nearly a year to the day since Britain last suffered severe flooding in October 1998.

Twelve years ago this month the south of England was battered by some of the worst storms this century, with several people killed and thousands of trees felled.

Environment Agency spokeswoman Sarah Hyman said the floods had been caused by a combination of gale-force winds, low pressure and an equinox tide.

Ms Hyman said the agency had warned climate changes could lead to more flooding in Britain and had last week launched a £2m campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of flooding.

She said 1.3 million homes and businesses in England and Wales were at greater risk of flooding than fire.

Of these only 5% had taken the necessary precautions.

As part of its campaign the agency is funding a 24-hour emergency advice line, called Floodline, which can be called on 0845 988 1188.

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