As winds of up to 100 miles per hour sweep across the South East, trees and stray branches suddenly represent serious danger to the public. Already this morning reports have come in of the tragic loss of two lives, a 17 year old girl in Kent has been killed after a tree fell on the static caravan she was sleeping in and a man in his 50’s was killed by a tree falling on his car in Watford. In another incident, one tree has devastated three houses and damaged two others as it fell on a gas main which then exploded. In addition to this, commuters suffered rush hour chaos as debris and falling trees covered railway tracks and blocked roads.
The storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, and could see the most extreme weather since the Great Storm of 1987. Many of us remember that storm, the worst for 300 years, clearly. With a devastating loss of 18 lives in the UK and £2 billion worth of damage caused, most of us considered it to be a once in a lifetime experience and not something we would ever have to live through again. More than 15 million trees were felled by the storm, including a high number of historic trees. Six of the seven oak trees which give Sevenoaks its name were blown down and Toys Hill in Kent lost 97% of its trees to the gale.
As with any natural disaster, however large or small, it’s hard to draw the positives from something that causes devastation and takes lives, however we know from the ’87 storm that there were some good things to come out of it. A great deal of time, effort and money was put into the post-storm clean-up of forests and wooded areas but in certain wooded areas groups were proactive in trying to prevent the unnecessary destruction of trees which, although fallen, were still living. Various landowners, including the National Trust, did not clear the fallen trees and replant, maximising the unique opportunity to study the patterns of natural regeneration after such an event. In some areas, the removal of thousands of trees opened up magnificent views where perhaps without the storm the trees may never otherwise have been thinned out.
The statistics for 1987 show that one in six households throughout the South East submitted an insurance claim following the storm. Whilst the impact of the current storm will hopefully be much less than the Great Storm which produced 1.3 million damage incidents, there will no doubt be an influx of insurance claims from the damage that has been caused. Not good for the insurance industry but there may be plus points for the local trades people who may see a burst of activity in the form of tree surgery, fence repairs, shed repairs, roof tile replacement and general repair work.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s storm and if we can be of any assistance at all to anyone with the necessary repair and remedial work then do get in touch with us at Forestrall Timber and Fencing Merchants (o1474 444150).