Friday, October 12, 2007

The Great Storm

In 1987, those of us who lived on the South Coast of England were subjected to the biggest storm to hit Britain in living memory. In retrospect - and in comparison with, say, Hurricane Katrina - it was not so bad. It was bad enough to cause "significant loss of life and devestation". This has only come to liight as I stumbled across a page about it on the Met Office website. It'll be twenty years ago on Monday.

My personal memories are still clear. I lived in a ground floor flat across the road from the beach - a few miles from Shoreham-by-Sea. I was woken in the early hours - one o'clock or so - by the noise. It was very loud - like nothing I'd neard before. I had a gas fire against the chimney breast; it was humming and vibrating as so much air was being drawn though it. The french windows were rattling like something out of Close Encounters.

I cautiously looked out of the window to the garden. Normally, I propped my windsurfer against the wall. For some reason, I had left it lying flat on the grass. As I looked I could see it being picked up by the wind .. making it hover about. I got rather unnerved by the strength of the wind: I was worried the windows were going to give way. I could almost feel the strength of it through the glass.

In the morning, having got a little sleep as the wind had peaked, I cycled to work. The coast road was red with pulverized rof tiles .. as if someone had powdered them and sprinkled the dust all over the road. My route took me along the airport perimiter track. The scene is difficult to imagine without having seen it. The light aircraft and helicopters were scattered and broken like childrens' toys.

Many TV programmes have been made about that night - and everyone who was there has a story to tell. I'll certainly never forget it.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I remember that storm. my mum sent me to school and then didn't believe me when I was sent home because the school was