School closures, power cuts and travel chaos as 100mph Storm Ciaran strikes

Some children may not be able to get back into their classrooms until Monday after Storm Ciaran battered the south of England and the Channel Islands with gusts of up to 100mph and heavy rain.

Damage to properties in Jersey meant some residents had to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in a hotel, with one woman saying hailstones “bigger than a golf ball” had broken her windows.

The storm caused travel chaos and the AA, which had a large number of callouts in southern England, said it had “rescued 84 customers stuck in flood so far today, with thousands more impacted by the weather”.

By Thursday afternoon National Grid said 9,000 properties were without power in the South West.

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Suzie Phillips from Jersey said she saw hailstones ‘bigger than a golf ball’ overnight (Suzie Phillips/PA)

Floods minister Rebecca Pow said potential flooding risks remained across the country with river levels still high, large waves at the coast and saturated ground.

The Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to support the Cabinet Office in co-ordinating the Government’s response, she confirmed.

Hundreds of schools were closed because of the risk to pupils in the south of England, but Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) downgraded its major incident on Thursday afternoon as the area had not experienced the “full extent of the forecast weather”.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Bartolomeo, LRF chairman, said: “While we have seen flooding of properties and roads, power outages and disruption to the highways networks caused by the wind and rain, we have thankfully not seen the full extent of the forecast weather, and we are now in a position to stand down the major incident response.”

The Government of Jersey said schools will close for a second day on Friday as they aim to get pupils back in classrooms on Monday.

In a statement it said: “Schools set to remain closed tomorrow to help assess damage and reopen roads. Some non-urgent health appointments have been cancelled.”

The Government of Jersey added that “minor” damage was caused to a hospital including “some minor water ingress” and solar shading blown off the building.

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Waves crash behind a fishing boat at Folkestone harbour (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Jersey Airport remained closed to commercial flights, with Ports of Jersey saying engineers had discovered extensive infrastructure and equipment damage and system failures caused by the storm.

Attempts were being made to reopen the airport at 2pm on Friday. Meanwhile, it is still operating for emergencies and medical transfers.

In Dorset, firefighters evacuated 70 people from 198 caravans at Freshwater Holiday Park in Burton Bradstock, near Bradport, with some being taken to dry land by boat.

Amid continued heavy rain on Thursday afternoon the Environment Agency said flooding was expected in 82 areas, most on the south coast.

A further 197 alerts were in place for possible flooding across England.

A Met Office yellow weather warning for winds that were “strong and potentially disruptive winds” was in place until 5pm covering the South West, Wales, London, the South East and the East of England.

A yellow weather warning for rain is also in place covering much of southern and western England and Wales until just before midnight.

P&O Ferries said it had experienced very long delays in Dover on Thursday.

(PA Graphics)

Southern Rail urged commuters to work from home if possible and avoid non-essential journeys due to a strong risk of falling trees and debris blowing on to the tracks.

The Cornwall councillor in charge of environment and public protection, Martyn Alvey, said the storm had led to a “significant event” in the region that had left highways teams dealing with about 180 reports of fallen trees, debris and blocked drains.

He said: “For people in their homes, particularly those who had lost power, it would have been a fairly traumatic experience.”

St Helier-based Carl Walker, the chairman of Jersey’s Consumer Council, said his family were woken by “marble-sized” hailstones at midnight, which he said had stuck together to create “golf ball-sized lumps of ice”.

He said: “We camped out in our living room downstairs with our children because it was just simply too noisy and too frightening to be upstairs in the bedrooms – tiles were lifting, debris was hitting the roof, windows were flexing.

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Flooded fields in Barnham, West Sussex (Joe Sene/PA)

“The noise of the wind was just incredible and quite frightening. It was like a scene from a disaster movie.”

States of Jersey Police said earlier that 35 people had been moved to hotel accommodation overnight, with three taken to hospital after damage to their homes.

Officers said four more people had been moved to other accommodation and Jersey Fire and Rescue Service said gusts had reached up to 104mph.

One Jersey homeowner, Suzie Phillips, told the PA news agency: “The hailstones were quite a bit heavier and bigger than a golf ball and we’ve had three windows damaged by them – in my daughter’s bedroom, a landing and a bathroom.

“It was quite worrying, especially for the kids – they were quite anxious about it.”

Roofs blowing off buildings, power lines and trees falling on to roads, and bridges and railway line closures are all possible due to the storm, the Met Office added.

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A flooded road in Yapton, West Sussex (Joe Sene/PA)

It also said Jersey Airport had seen wind gusts of up to 93mph on Thursday morning, with Langdon Bay in Kent recording 71mph, and the village of Cardinham in Cornwall seeing 68mph.

The French coast had winds of up to 110mph in western Brittany overnight.

All flights from Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney airports on Thursday were cancelled.

A yellow warning for rain is also in place until 6am on Friday for north-east England and Scotland, stretching up to Inverness.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution urged people watching the conditions to stay away from the coast.

Two buses were damaged by debris in strong winds in Capel-le-Ferne, Kent, causing disruption to services in the area.

A Stagecoach spokesman said no passengers were injured.