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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 19:22 GMT
Families weather the storm
Electricity pylons
Thousands are still without power after storms
Two days after stormy weather knocked out power lines and brought chaos to London and Essex, thousands of families are still suffering its effects.

Newlyweds Lorraine and Terry Coomes are hoping another disaster will not stop them taking their dream honeymoon to the Bahamas on Wednesday.

After changing their bookings twice - their first choice destination was unavailable after flight changes in the wake of the 11 September attacks and the couple then chose Bali as their next honeymoon location - they made it to the plane at Heathrow on Sunday only to be told after boarding that it would not be taking off.

"We were quite distraught, they announced the flight was cancelled and said we had to wait in our seats until they could re-issue tickets," said Mrs Coomes, 28.

Newlyweds Lorraine and Terry Coomes
The Coomes were due to fly out on Sunday

"We were just sitting there for half an hour, not knowing whether we would be flying that day, or going tomorrow and there were a lot of unhappy passengers around us."

Three queues at the British Airways desk and six hours on a disrupted travel network later, they arrived back at Romford, Essex to face a three-day wait until they could embark on their dream holiday.

In Enfield, north London, an estimated 130 residents are among the tens of thousands still left without electricity.

Among them are Leslie Mills and his wife Valerie who was preparing a bottle for her new grandson at 0700 BST on Sunday when the lights went out.


We sat for a little while with candles but it is dangerous with two children and we couldn't sterilise any of the baby's bottles

Nicola Fishenden

Nearly sixty hours later she is still lighting the house with candles and going round to her daughter's house to get washed.

"We haven't had a squeak of any electricity since that moment," she said.

"We are still waiting and we really haven't a clue as to when it is likely to be coming on."

"I always had a gas hob fortunately, so we're not really completely stranded - I always said I'd never go totally electric."

Overhead cables

Homes in the old Eastern Group electricity area, stretching from Harrow in the west to Romford in the east, where there are more overhead cables supplying electricity, are worst affected.

Nicola Fishenden, 31, of Rainham, Essex, has had to crowd into her mother's three-bedroom bungalow along with her partner, young son and six-month-old baby since Sunday night.

"We sat for a little while with candles but it is dangerous with two children and we couldn't sterilise any of the baby's bottles," she said.

She was told it could be five days before her home will get power back.

Severe storms

But a spokesman for 24seven, the company which runs the London and East Anglia networks for the London Electricity Group, said: "It's difficult to see beyond tomorrow what the situation will be.

"The storms we had on Sunday were both severe and widespread and that resulted in, at the height of the storms, 300,000 customers left without power.

"This lunchtime it was down to 26,000 and we are working flat out.

"We understand it is very frustrating and can only apologise to customers."


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See also:

29 Oct 02 | UK
29 Oct 02 | Europe
29 Oct 02 | UK
28 Oct 02 | England
28 Oct 02 | Business
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