By Cijo Jose
Storm Imogen caused travel chaos last month in Essex and Suffolk as winds of up to 100mph swept the region.
Trains between London and the Essex coast towns of Clacton and Walton were unable to run beyond Thorpe-le-Soken.
Hatfield Forest near Bishop’s Stortford had to be closed and the QEII Bridge at the Dartford Crossing was shut.
Rail service operator Greater Anglia apologised to commuters for the delays caused. There was a limited rail replacement bus service in operation between Clacton, Thorpe-le-Soken and Colchester.
The rail replacement bus services added more than 45 minutes to the journey time, and further delays on the A12 meant commuters got to their destination much later than expected.
Many commuters were unhappy with the service provided. Ryan Mahendran, a regular commuter said: “Greater Anglia need to do much more to treat their customers fairly, providing better information and access to compensation when passengers are delayed.”
Schools were also closed on Monday in various areas of Essex. Temple Mutton – Miltown Hall Primary School – Westbra – St Merry’s were among many of the schools that were closed.
The yellow ‘be aware’ weather warning from the Met Office was in issued from 3am to 6pm on Monday 8 February.
The warning said that “gusts of 60-70 mph are likely quite widely” and to “be aware of the potential for disruption to travel as well as possible damage to trees and structures and interruption of power supplies”.
A local from Colchester, Daniel Rozario described the winds as “more powerful than expected, I couldn’t stand up straigt.” Elsewhere in the country, the strongest winds were reported at the Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight with a gust of 95mph, and the highest waves were in Cornwall with a wave height of 19.1m off St Ives.
More than 15,000 homes were left without power across southern parts of England and Wales. A further 5,000 homes lost power in Ireland. Road, rail and ferry routes were badly affected.
The power company Western Power dealt with 1,400 incidents and restored power to over 96,000 properties in the 24 hours from Monday morning.
“Following advanced weather predictions, we were prepared for its impact,” said a WPD spokesman. Teams from South Wales, West Midlands and East Midlands arrived in the South West on Monday evening, which was the worst affected area, to assist with the final restorations and repairs.
“Extra customer service staff were also on hand to advise customers, answering almost 21,000 calls in an average of around two seconds per call, while also proactively making contact with over 1,000 vulnerable customers on our Priority Service Register.”