Flooding, power cuts and destruction to homes continue to impact people in parts of the country after three named storms struck the UK in a week.
At Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire, cars remain stuck in a flooded road after Storm Franklin hit on Sunday. Martin Crapper, 62, said people in “countless cars” were trapped “in the freezing cold flood water in the dark” on the main road from Matlock to Buxton.
The health and safety manager said that mountain rescue had to help an elderly man on Sunday evening. “Then there were other people who got stuck, and they didn’t venture out [of their cars] – they waited for four or five hours for rescue to come and drag them [the vehicles] out.” He added that local people “tried to help as best as possible with cups of tea and opening [their] homes for warmth and shelter”.
The council closed the road on Sunday evening, but some drivers have ignored the signs and continued driving through the area, Crapper said, creating “huge tidal waves causing more risk to trapped cars”. “The trouble is, it’s on a blind bend, so with the dark, you come round the corner and you’re in it before you know it.”
Crapper explained that although the area is aptly named and tends to flood, it’s the worst flooding he has witnessed in the five years he’s lived there. “Last January was bad, but this is even worse. My neighbor next door but one, he’s lived here for over 10 years – he’s never seen anything like this,” Crapper said.
Pippa Palmer, 59, was at home sheltering from Storm Eunice in London on Friday when she heard a “deafening” cracking noise. “I was sitting there trying to reassure my dog that nothing was wrong. He’ll never believe another word,” Palmer said. In the garden four doors down from Palmer, a research strategist, is a giant mimosa tree: “It is 25 ft, 7.6 metres. It’s bloody huge,” she said.
After hearing the crash, Palmer said she went into the garden and just saw a branch down. “I thought that made a loud noise. Then I turned around and was like, oh my Christ there’s a tree on my house.”
The 25-ft tree is now horizontal, having crashed through three fences in neighbors gardens. “The top boughs hit my house with almighty force,” Palmer said, adding that she has filed an insurance claim and that people are coming tomorrow to start “carving” the tree up. “It has crashed through my bathroom roof and crushed my artist’s studio in the garden. The tree’s holding the roof on to the studio. We’re worried about what’s gonna happen when the tree is taken off.”
When the power went off at Yvonne Turner’s home in Aberdeenshire on Monday morning, it was the third time in as many months. Fortunately, it was just for a few hours this time, but recent storms Arwen, Corrie and Malik have seen their area cut off for days on end. “We are feeling quite fed up,” Turner, 58, said, explaining that outages keep occurring because trees are knocked over on to power lines.
For Turner, losing power is “doubly a pain” as it also means having their water supply cut off, as the domestic supply is pumped from a borehole. Finding drinking water during Storm Arwen proved difficult: all the supermarkets had “completely sold out”. “We had a bit of a struggle, but eventually found a welfare van in town, and we were able to get some water on the second day. When you have no electricity and no water, and it’s wintertime, it’s quite tough.”
As Turner grows her own produce and keeps livestock, the frequent power cuts are particularly stressful. “We fill our freezer with produce at the end of the season and it lasts for the rest of the year. So when the power goes down for several days, it’s really quite a problem – we’re faced with losing all of our year’s work.”
In Gloucestershire, Douglas Campbell, 63, has been without power for more than 72 hours after Storm Eunice hit on Friday. Campbell, a 63-year-old company director, and his family of four moved to a nearby hotel on Sunday, as the property was “uninhabitable”. “Everything is fired by electricity, so no hot water, no light, no heat, no nothing. It’s been a terrible time,” he said, adding that he’s been “reliably informed” by his provider, Scottish Power, that electricity will be back by 11pm on Monday. “We had no choice but to move out.”
“We waited because we hoped and hoped that it would get better but by the time Sunday morning came, there was no way to boil water or have a wash,” Campbell said, adding that they were doing everything with “candles, like the dark ages”. “It was hopeless so we had to move on.” The 63-year-old said the storm has not damaged their home, but two trees in the garden have been uprooted. “It’s the worst storm in recent memory,” Campbell, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said.
“[The power] is due to be restored at 11pm on Monday, but it’s taken them a very, very long time,” Campbell said. “If it doesn’t come back on today, we’ll have to try and ring the bell a bit harder. But at the end of the day, I suppose thousands of people are in the same boat.”