fallen tree

Storm Eunice – record winds cause widespread disruption

Millions of people have been instructed to remain indoors as Storm Eunice surges continue throughout the UK.

The Met Office has issued rare red weather warnings, which represent a danger to life, for southern and eastern parts of England. 

Wind gusts in excess of 90mph have resulted in flight cancellations and school closures, as well as causing part of the O2 Arena’s roof to tear loose. 

These severe conditions have prompted leading organisations around London to provide updates on the current situation. 

In a joint statement, South Western Railway and Network Rail said: “Gusts of more than 90mph wind have caused multiple incidents across the SWR network today, with 30 fallen trees already blocking key routes.

“As a result, SWR services have been suspended until at least 18.00 and we strongly urge customers not to travel at this time.

“Customers should regularly check the ‘Plan my journey’ page on SWR’s website, which will be updated with the latest information every hour.”

Cllr Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, echoed the statement and has urged communities to only travel if absolutely necessary. 

She said: “Boroughs are working hard to maintain essential local services and support our communities in the face of Storm Eunice. 

“Please be prepared, stay safe, look out for each other and keep travel to a minimum.

“Boroughs are also ready to respond if there are reports of damaged buildings or trees.”

And there was in fact a toppled tree earlier today in Gloucester Road, Hampton. 

Nick Powell, local resident, described the incident and praised the local council’s speedy response. 

He said: “I heard a bit of a thud which I thought was just the wind banging hard against the window and saw the tree had fallen down. 

“It’s damaged an elderly neighbour’s front garden and someone’s car so I’m hoping they’re all okay. 

“It could’ve been a lot worse and the council has sorted it very quickly.”

The Local Government Association, which represents 350 councils across England and Wales, has announced that council staff are out in force protecting residents and working to minimise disruption caused by the storm. 

Cllr David Renard, Environment spokesperson for the LGA, said: “Council staff continue to work around-the-clock to ensure the safety of residents, homes and businesses, shore up flood defences, and protect road networks and power supplies as much as possible. 

“People living in affected areas should keep an eye on their councils’ social media channels and their websites and follow their advice as they provide rolling updates on the situation in local areas, provide safety advice and detail any service disruption.”

The Royal Parks also announced the decision to close their parks as a precautionary measure. 

A Royal Parks spokesperson said: “Due to the current red weather warnings for Storm Eunice, we have closed all eight Royal Parks on Friday 18 February. 

“The Royal Parks host more than 170,000 trees across 5,000 acres, including ancient and veteran trees that are vulnerable to high winds.

“We will monitor the forecast closely over the next 24 hours and will communicate updates via our website, twitter account @theroyalparks and Facebook pages. 

“We will reopen all parks as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

With UK home-owners bracing themselves for a rough experience, leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, has issued pet advice to help ensure cats and dogs are protected.

Chloe Jackson, Canine Behaviour and Training Manager at Battersea, said: “With the weather over the next day or two taking a turn for the worst, it’s important that we do what we can for our pets.

“Cats and dogs can become stressed and anxious when the wind howls and the rain is pouring down.  

“Fortunately, there is some advice we can offer to owners that can help to keep your pets calm until Storm Eustice passes”. 

Battersea recommend avoiding letting your pet outdoors when the storm is at its worst; creating a ‘safe space’ inside your home that allows your pet to feel comfortable; avoiding confining your pet to just one room; keeping the TV or radio on to reduce the sounds of howling winds; distracting your pet with a nice treat. 

In 2020 Battersea directly cared for 1,796 dogs and 1,653 cats at their three centres, in addition to helping thousands more through their communities programme.

To find out more, you can follow Battersea on Twitter at: @battersea_ or on Instagram at @battersea

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