Gallery: Storm survivors describe wreckage as looking like a bombsite

ON the morning of October 16, 1987 the residents of Annbrook Road, Ipswich, woke to a scene of destruction.

Today Annbrook Road is a peaceful Ipswich street.

The lawns are tidy and well kept, cars are parked safely in the street.

But 25 years ago it was a different story.

Roofs had been ripped from houses, debris was strewn across the street, cars were damaged – on October 16, 1987 residents of Annbrook Road woke to a scene of shocking devastation.


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As winds had built up during the night the stability of the street’s flat roofs had been tested to its limits with powerful gusts lifting many off homes.

Gusts had been so powerful some residents were in bed when the roof of their home was lifted off the house, revealing the night sky.

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That day is still vivid in the memory of residents.

Kevin Wallace stayed away from home that night with a friend.

He said: “I could hear the winds were strong and I thought there would be some building affected. When I came home I came round the corner and it was like Beirut. It was surreal. The whole roof of my house had been lifted by the wind. The wind had gushed up the hill behind the house. My roof wasn’t blown off but some had been. There was debris all over the road on top of vehicles.”

Kevin, now 60, said the insurance took some time to come through.

He said: “It took a while before it was fixed properly. The roof is now secured to the walls so it won’t happen again. People still remember that night, it was quite an event for this area. We had never known anything like it.”

Many houses in Annbrook Road today sport pitched roofs, rebuilt after the storm.

Just a few doors away Linda Hardman remembers the destruction.

She said: “I was living in Cambridge Drive at the time. I took my son to work at the market which was then in Civic Drive. I couldn’t believe it, there were trees and branches all over the road. It was still really, really windy.”

The 59-year-old added: “A friend’s lean-to had been smashed and I remember a lot of the flat roofs in this road had been blown off. I moved here about 15 years ago and mine was one of the houses that was damaged. I have vivid memories of that day.”

On the other side of Annbrook Road Glenys Fairs watched as the roof from the house opposite landed in her front garden.

I was in the kitchen with my children who were then 14 and 11. I watched as the whole roof lifted and landed in our garden. It was terrifying. It looked like a bomb site.”

Her husband Ron was a postman at the time.

He said: “I went to work at 4.30am and I could see people’s roofs coming off and damage being done. I was going along Stone Lodge Lane and a big oak tree came down just behind me. My colleague following me thought I was a gonner.”

Mr and Mrs Fairs had just finished paying off their mortgage when the winds lifted their roof off their house.

Ron, 70, said: “I had to fork out for it and luckily I had some money saved. It took 18 months to get it fixed.”

Glenys, 67, added: “It was horrendous. We will always remember that date, even now I don’t like the wind.”

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