Windstorms Batter U.K., France

October 28, 2002

Emergency Workers in Southern England and Northwest France were busy Monday morning cleaning up the debris and beginning infrastructure repairs after the passage of a powerful windstorm over the weekend blew down power lines, toppled trees, tore the roofs off many buildings, and severely disrupted road, rail, marine and air transport throughout the region.

Although they were less devastating than the storms that hit the U.K. in 1987 and France in 1999, the strong winds, with gusts up to 90 mph, created chaos across much of the area. Falling trees were responsible for the deaths of seven people in the U.K.

The BBC reported that rail and road transport was still disrupted Monday morning as crews worked to clear debris from the lines, and repair bridges. Many services remain suspended, and over 200,000 homes are still without electricity.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) gave preliminary estimates that the damages from the storm could exceed £50 million ($78 million).

While homeowners are counting the cost of damage to repair roofs, walls, fences and chimneys damaged by the storm the ABI warned that more might be on the way. “Insurers expect to have to deal with bouts of bad weather during the year,” said an ABI bulletin. It also advised home and automobile owners to contact their insurers as soon as possible.

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