Thousands of homes left without power after storm

Thousands of homes were without power last night after a fierce storm crossed the region

Annie Davidson

THOUSANDS of homes were left power last night after a huge storm bought chaos to East Anglia.

Homes in Bury St Edmunds and Long Melford, near Sudbury, were among the worst affected with more than 1,000 properties still waiting to be reconnected some four hours after the original blackout.

EDF Energy said engineers would be working throughout the night to try and restore power to the affected homes.

Power in the area was lost at about 6.06pm after overhead cables were damaged and although some homes were reconnected by just after 8pm, more than 1,200 were still affected.

Torrential rain with thunder and lightning also caused misery for commuters after Ipswich railway station was evacuated and trains were halted following a lightning strike.

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Commuters were left stranded after overhead power lines had to be switched off following lightning hitting the chimney at the busy station at around 7.30pm today.

National Express East Anglia bought in some replacement bus services to get travellers home as it was unclear when the station would reopen.

At 9.25pm trains began running again using two of the station's four platforms as work continued to try and stabilise the station's chimney.

A spokesman for National Express East Anglia was unable to say how many services had been affected by the chaos but it would be a “significant number.”

It is anticipated the station will fully reopen by midnight and services would be back to normal by tomorrow morning.

A spokesman for Network Rail, which maintains the track, said the power was switched off after the fire service declared the station unsafe until it had been examined for any damage.

He said trains had been stopped between Manningtree and Stowmarket causing “severe disruption.”

At 9.25pm two platforms at the station were opened and a limited service began running, he added.

The bad weather, which hit both Essex and Suffolk, prompted dozens of call-outs to the fire service in both counties.

In Essex fire crews were dealing with “numerous” 999 calls from 6.30pm onwards with flooding reported in Clacton, Billericay, Brentwood, Harlow, Aveley, South Ockendon and Grays.

The county's police headquarters in Chelmsford was victim of a lightning strike and staff had to use an emergency back-up system after computers and radio equipment were affected.

In Suffolk, crews were sent to a reported lightning strike at the Clements Surgery in Greenfields Way, Haverhill, but no damage was found.

McGinty's Irish pub in Northgate Street, Ipswich, suffered a small ceiling collapse as the heavy rain took its toll on the historic building.

Barman Mark Dickenson said it was “business as usual” and just a small part of the lower bar had been closed off where the damage had occurred.

Flood reports also came in from Ancaster Road, Ellenbrook Road, London Road and Bramford Lane in Ipswich, as well as Ballingdon Street, Sudbury, High Street in Lakenheath and Olding Road, Bury St Edmunds.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said all of these calls were either because of flood water in the road or properties being flooded.

She added that unless the situation was life-threatening fire crews did not attend and the caller was given the number of a contractor to contact for help.

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