STORM: Update - Busy night for police across the county

Sussex Police have had a very busy night across the county as the long-awaited storm has finally arrived.
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Inspector Steve Grace has been monitoring the situation on the roads across the county.

“There have been two main problems - surface water and fallen trees,” he said. “The rain seems to be easing now, but there are large expanses of water on the roads and you just don’t always see them in the dark. Hit one even at moderate speed and you can find yourself completely out of control.

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“Fallen trees have blocked roads all over Sussex and as my colleague found out, when one falls right in front of you, there’s no chance of avoiding it. If you have no choice but to drive then please do so with the utmost caution, but if you can stay at home until the worse of it blows through, then I’d recommend you do so.”

Superintendent Grenville Wilson has been leading the Sussex Police operation to deal with the storm. He said: “While we know we are going to experience the full severity of the storm for a few more hours yet, the major impact at the moment would appear to be on the county’s roads. The Environment Agency has issued 12 coastal flod alerts right along the coast and tell me that there has been more rain than predicted, but as yet we have not seen any significant problems.

“We are now watching to see what the height of the winds will bring and we anticipate that there will be more road disruption caused by fallen trees. Roads are being closed and re-opening all the time, However, unless your journey really is necessary I would suggest that you try to delay it until at least lunchtime.

“If you’re not off to work and are planning to venture out to look at Mother Nature at her mightiest, do look after yourselves. At 3.30am, I was watching people on CCTV on Brighton Beach dancing around at the waves’ edge, occasionally being overtaken by the advancing water. One slip and they could have found themselves in real danger, along with the people who would try to rescue them.

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“We witnessed the tragic power of the sea at Newhaven yesterday and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the young lad who is sadly still missing. I don’t want to see that repeated.”

Among the most serious incidents, a 14-year-old boy who got into difficulties in the sea at Newhaven on Sunday afternoon (October 27) has not been found, but as at 5am, police were unaware of any other serious incident.

A taxi driver in Eastbourne had a lucky escape when a tree fell on his car in The Goffs at 1.15am, but he was able to climb out uninjured. A police car driver wasn’t quite so fortunate when a tree fell right in front of his car on the B2104 Mayfield Flat at 1.40am. He sustained minor injuries when the air bag deployed, but gave himself a shake and carried on working!

Gatwick Airport is advising passengers to check on their flights and to be aware that trainservices are not running until at least 9am.

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Buses are also subject to delays and changes in timetable due to fallen trees.

Among the various roads blocked by fallen trees:

- A24 London Road in Washington partially blocked at the A283 The Pike junction.

- A272 Lewes Road in Haywards Heath partially blocked at Bedales Corner.

- B2036 Balcombe Road in Balcombe blocked around the B2110 Paddockhurst Road junction.

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- B2133 Adversane Lane partially blocked in both directions between the A29 Stane Street junction in Adversane and the B2139 Coolham Road junction in Thakeham.

- New Way Lane in Hurstpierpoint blocked around the B2116 Hassocks Road junction.

- Forest Road in Colgate blocked at the Tower Road junction.

- A264 Copthorne Common Road in Copthorne partially blocked between the New Town junction and the Borers Arms Road junction.

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- A22 Beeching way in East Grinstead closed between the London road junction and the B2110 Lewes Road junction.

- B2110 Turner’s Hill Road in East Grinstead blocked at Hazleden Cross, because of multiple fallen trees on the road

- A259 Barnhorn Road in Little Common blocked at the Sandhurst Lane junction.

- A21 in Robertsbridge partially blocked northbound around the Church Lane junction.

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Flooding is also a problem and the following roads are affected:

- A23 partially blocked at Pease Pottage.

- Flooding on A29 Stane Street in North Heath at the Gay Street Lane junction.

To add to drivers’ problems the main crossroads at Buck Barn, West Grinstead, near Horsham, has a power failure and the traffic lights aren’t working.