Blacked out by storms

The morning after: more photos of storm damage in our slideshow

Rye was battered, blown and plunged into darkness by high winds on Friday as thunder and lightning continued through the night.

Branches were scattered across roads as the wind blew debris everywhere and most of the town was plunged into darkness. Tree damage appeared to be worst in Mason Road, Gibbet Marsh and The Grove. A Mint Street resident whose roof was being repaired had to get an emergency tarpaulin in place to prevent serious damage.

But the show went on in the Conduit Hill community centre as the musical Smile Boys, That’s The Style continued with emergency lighting.

The blackout started around 8.30pm and continued past midnight but most people had the power back by breakfast.

Anne Wood, who lives in High Street, a churchwarden at St Mary’s, was on the beach when a fast moving black cloud appeared. “It was like a tornado,” she said. “Everything on the decking got blown everywhere.” Similarly, the high winds shook the scaffolding and bare timbers on the building site in Valley Park, but no damage was immediately apparent behind the security fence – though wheelie bins were thrown around.

The Icklesham Players and Acting up in Rye, who combined forces to produce Smile Boys, a World War 1 centenary tribute, showed true wartime spirit. The second half, which followed the blackout, was a music hall featuring famous songs and stars we still know today. The seats were turned to face each other, and the sing-a-long went ahead under emergency lighting with a stiff upper lip all around.

The overnight rain, and the promise of further rain, also meant Saturday’s garden party at 11 High Street in aid of the museum had to move off the slippery grass slope at the last minute. It’s new venue was the drier grounds of the East Street museum and the organisers said it was well attended. The museum’s burglar alarm, set off the previous night by the power failure, had added to the noise from the thunderstorm.

Some residents said they had continued partying in the dark but others, daunted by the blackout, stayed with friends overnight, and many faced the problem on Saturday morning of resetting clocks and restarting domestic equipment, whose instruction manuals had been long misplaced. In other cases some damage may not become obvious until people return to work on Monday.

Photos: Dan Lake