‘We heard a huge bang’ Family forced to flee Ightham home after 7 trees fell in Storm Eunice

A family in Ightham have been forced to stay in a hotel following damage from Storm Eunice.

Seven trees fell near the house of David Thomas on Friday February 18 and tore the electric cables which supply a dozen houses in the region.

Two of the large trees fell in the garden and even caused a fire while the electric cables were still live.

Read more: Storm Franklin updates Dartford Crossing closure, homes still without power and travel chaos in Kent

Speaking to KentLive while surveying the scene, David, 56, said: “If you were traveling around the area on Friday you would see it was a windy day but I never would have thought in a million years that there would be something wrong with the garden.

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“We had spent the night before protecting it as much as possible from the storms, and my wife was on a Teams call and I was upstairs.

“We heard a huge bang when the two big trees fell first, but there are seven in total, luckily all away from the house.”

While David said he wasn’t scared at the time, he admitted he was certainly “shocked” by the ordeal.

“I was asked if I was scared and I thought ‘no, not at all’, but I was definitely shocked because you’re so used to such tall trees standing upright.

The scene at Iightham

“Seeing them fall was just amazing. My 8 year old burst into tears because she was really shocked and her swings were gone!

“But she calmed down pretty quickly when we explained it was an opportunity for us to look at the garden now and do something a little different.”

Fallen live wires caused two small electrical fires in the nearby orchid, prompting the family to call the fire department.

Crews remained at the scene for a total of 11 hours until UK Power Network arrived and cut the power, reducing the risk of another fire.

“Headlamps are the best thing ever”

Describing living without electricity, David said: “We are lucky to have a wood burning stove, and we could always cook with a barbecue.

“A friend lent us a generator so it was a bit like indoor camping actually, but it certainly brings to mind how dependent we are on electricity.

“The burglar alarm kept going off because it was battery powered and you were frantically wondering where the control panel is so I would definitely recommend people make a list of where all those control switches in their homes.

“I also found out that headlamps are the best thing ever!”

After the generator failed last night (20 February), the family decided to spend the night at a nearby hotel.

“People have been without electricity for 72 hours”

Today (September 21) David was visited by local MP Tom Tugendhat and Greg Hands, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The scene at Iightham

They came to the garden to observe work being carried out by UK Power Networks, and Greg Hands updated KentLive on the problems across the county.

He said: “People here have been without power for 72 hours, and there are still many people in the area without power.

“There are 32,000 people still without power across the UK as a whole, but there is very good news that 1.3 million people in the country have had their power back.

“Distribution system operators are working very hard to restore power, which is why I am here today to thank them.

“My message to those without power would be to be patient. Most of those pockets still without power should be restored within the next few hours.

“We will now be looking at each storm individually and looking at what lessons we can learn from them, and we will be releasing a report on Storm Eunice which will come out in the coming months.”

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