Gales batter the region

A 17-year-old woman was in a serious condition in hospital after strong winds led to a two-vehicle collision on the A414.The accident was just one of more than 50 weather-related incidents reported to Essex Police on Saturday night.

A 17-year-old woman was in a serious condition in hospital after strong winds led to a two-vehicle collision on the A414.

The accident was just one of more than 50 weather-related incidents reported to Essex Police on Saturday night.

The crash happened on Three Mile Hill just outside Chelmsford, at around 8.30pm on Saturday, when a large tree fell on to the road as the woman was heading towards the A12.

Her car, a silver Nissan, struck the tree, coming off the road.


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It was then in collision with a green Subaru driven by a 47-year-old local man.

It is believed the woman may have been outside her car checking for damage when the accident occurred.

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Both drivers were taken to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, where the woman was last night said to be in a serious condition. The man was treated for face and chest injuries before being released.

The road was closed for around five hours while the tree was removed and emergency services worked at the scene.

Many reports of trees falling onto roads in north Essex were received by police as the winds were at their highest.

Officers themselves removed one tree from Bounstead Road in Blackheath, Colchester, after it was reported blocking three quarters of the highway at around 10.30pm on Saturday.

However despite efforts by police to move a tree blocking Bargate Lane, in Lawford, specialist county council contractors had to bring equipment to clear the road.

Shortly before 1am on Sunday a tree blocking Mill Lane in Bradfield, Manningtree, also had to be removed by council contractors.

Police investigating the Chelmsford crash are appealing for any witnesses to contact Pc Derek Wheddon at Chelmsford Road Policing Unit on 01245 452920.

Meanwhile the strong winds and heavy raid caused isolated flooding in some parts of Essex and caused black outs across the region.

Essex firefighters waded in waist deep to help four pensioners from a Peugeot people carrier which was swept into a barrier in 3.5ft feet floodwater at Buttsbury Wash, near Billericay. The minibus became stuck when a river burst its banks and flooded a road. No on was hurt.

A spokesman for electricity providers EDF Energy said the majority of problems had arisen between 6pm and 10pm, on Saturdayat the height of the gale force winds which hit the region.

In Essex at one point some 650 customers had no electricity while across the region

the area around Bury St Edmunds was worst affected. About 490 homes across Suffolk were still without supply on Sunday afternoon.

He added that engineers were working to reconnect those left without power as quickly as possible.

"Across the whole of the east of England, about 20,000 customers were affected at the peak of the storms on Saturday night, mainly because of the gale force winds," he said.

"At least 15,000 of those were put back on later that night, and by yesterdayafternoon, just under 3,000 homes were still without supply.

" There were also some localised faults, which only affected one or two properties. But we were doing our best to visit the majority of areas affected. Until we do, it is difficult to know if it is a simple job to reconnect supply or if it is a major piece of work involving putting up poles to access overhead lines.

"In relative terms, a very small proportion of our customers went off, and we are certainly doing our best."

A series of flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency continued to be in force last night.

Warnings covered eight rivers in East Anglia, 32 in the Midlands, 12 in the North-East and five in Wales, but temperatures were predicted to reach 16C (61F) in southern England and East Anglia as more heavy rain was forecast for Tuesday.

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