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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 15:35 GMT
Storm leaves 3,000 without power
Fallen tree in Bognor Regis [picture by Jennifer Gardner]
A tree fell in Jennifer Gardner's garden in Bognor Regis
Storm force winds have been causing disruption across the South East.

Winds of up to 80mph were recorded in the English Channel while severe storms, moving in from the Atlantic, battered the south coast.

About 3,000 homes across Kent, Surrey and Sussex were left without electricity after the weather damaged overhead power lines.

Ferry sailings from the Port of Dover resumed at about 1340 GMT following its closure earlier in the morning.

But P&O and Norfolkline said their services to Calais and Dunkirk remained disrupted.

The Dartford QE2 Bridge, which was shut earlier on Monday, also reopened later but the Sheppey Crossing remained closed.

A spokesman for EDF Energy Networks said: "High winds have caused localised faults on the electricity network across the South East of England.

Beach hut in Shoreham [picture by Martin Sayers]
Roofs were torn from beach huts at Shoreham in West Sussex

"As of 12.30pm, just over 6,200 customers were affected across the region. This includes around 1,300 customers in Kent, 1,200 in West Sussex, 500 in East Sussex and a small number in Surrey.

He added that more high winds were expected, which were likely to cause damage to overhead power lines.

"We continue to monitor the situation and make preparations as part of our on-going emergency planning," he said.

Surrey and Sussex Fire and Rescue said fallen trees had caused problems but there had not been any major incidents.

British Airways cancelled 11 flights at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, while low-cost airline Flybe said it also axed some services.

Two primary schools near Sittingbourne, Kent, were closed following power failures. Rainham School For Girls was also shut because of problems with its heating system.

Schools in East Sussex were also affected, and the cliff-top visitor attraction, Newhaven Fort, was closed.

Fallen tree at St Peters School, Chailey, [picture by Tony Woodley]
A tree fell in the playground of St Peters School, Chailey, East Sussex

In Surrey, the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley was closed because of high winds.

Eurotunnel services between Folkestone and Calais were unaffected by the weather but a spokesman said they were very busy.

The Environment Agency opened its national incident room, warning of the risk of high waves and flooding in southern England.

The agency urged people to stay away from exposed coastal areas and to check for flood warnings, which were in place across the south, from Lymington in Hampshire to Folkestone in Kent.

Teams were also out with bulldozers shoring up shingle to protect coastal areas.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Storm damage across the South East



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