A FAMILY had a miracle escape after Storm Imogen sent the gable end of their house crashing on to the flat roof of their living room.

Three children and the their parents were at home in Chichester Drive East, Saltdean, on Sunday night, when the gale-force winds prized open the roof.

Neighbours told how they heard "a hell of a crash" shortly before the sirens of the emergency services.

It was just one of dozens of emergency calls across Sussex on Sunday night and Monday as 80mph winds battered the county.

As well as damaged buildings, the storm brought down trees, telegraph cables and left at least two people injured.

A woman from Shoreham suffered head injuries when a tree fell on her and a man had his leg crushed when a wall fell on him in Bognor.

His dog was killed by the wall.

There was a severe weather warning for the duration of Monday across Sussex and a number of flood warnings in place.

Among the buildings damaged by the gusts include the King Alfred Leisure Centre, which had part of its roof taken off, and David Lloyd Leisure Centre at Brighton Marina.

There was also disruption for commuters as a fallen tree blocked the Brighton Mainline.

Sussex Police received 131 emergency calls between 9.30pm on Sunday and 4.30pm yesterday while firefighters attended around 40 incidents.

Neighbours in Chichester Drive East, Saltdean, said the father of the family, a police officer called Tim, had been in the living room when the gable end of the roof came down.

He gathered his family and fled before taking refuge with neighbours.

Janet and Ray Fisher, whose living room overlooks the house, were watching the BBC adaptation of War and Peace when they heard a loud crash and thought initially it was part of the programme.

Then the retired couple looked out of their window and saw the carnage.

Mrs Fisher said: "We looked outside and saw the blue lights of police vans and a fire engine. There were big lumps of [the gable] piled up on the flat roof.

"We have been here for years and nothing like that has ever happened before. It must have been very distressing for them."

Another neighbour said it was a really loud bang and thought something had come through her conservatory roof.

Brian Page, a Telscombe Town councillor for East Saltdean, who lives opposite the house, took the family in after the collapse.

He said: "They are in shock. They can't go back into the house or even make temporary repairs until the wind dies down.

"We are doing our best to be neighbourly."


THE King Alfred Leisure Centre on Hove seafront took a battering and whad to be closed after its roof was damaged.

The roof above the pool at the leisure centre was damaged by gusts of up to 80mph and the building was cordoned off.

The centre remained closed yesterday evening and the pool is expected to be closed today as well.

Parts of the nearby promenade were also cordoned off while the council, police and fire service dealt with the damage.  A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We will continue to monitor the situation and are taking advice on what action is required.  “This shows again how we urgently need a modern replacement to the existing King Alfred Leisure Centre.”

A section of a gable wall collapsed in Dudney Court, Windlesham Close, Portslade, and three residents had to be evacuated.

The wall came down as the TV aerial was blown off the roof, taking one storey of brickwork with it at 1pm.

There were a number of smaller incidents. The fire service attended collapsing roof tiles in Bexhill, dangerous shop signs in Peacehaven, flimsy sheet metal in Portslade and a leaning chimney in Eastbourne.


A DOG died and its elderly owner suffered a broken leg when a flint wall collapsed as Storm Imogen blew through the county.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and South East Coast Ambulance Service attended the scene in Blakes Road, Bognor, yesterday morning.  A spokesman for the fire service said the dog was dead at the scene and the man was taken to hospital with a broken leg at 7.56am.

The ambulance service had released the man before the arrival of the fire service.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said he suffered a suspected broken leg and was taken to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.

A woman unpacking shopping from her car in Connaught Avenue, Shoreham, was struck by a falling tree in a lucky escape.  A neighbour said she was “talking but bleeding from the head” when she was taken to hospital by paramedics at 2pm. She was well enough to walk to the ambulance before being taken to Worthing Hospital.  There were no reported injuries when the storm hit overnight on Sunday.

Sussex Police said they attended incidents such as multiple instances of trees and/or branches in the road, a tree which fell on to telephone cables, fencing blown into the road, scaffolding blown down, a roof collapsing, temporary road signs and cones being blown from their placement points, a power cable  down across the road, a wheelie bin being blown down a residential street and a  garden trampoline being displaced.


A TREE fell on to the Brighton main line during Storm Imogen, causing extensive delays on already slow-running rail services.

Services were delayed by up to 45 minutes on the Brighton to London route as a tree blocked the line between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges.

Earlier in the day Southern Rail and Thameslink had been running trains at a reduced speed due to the heavy winds.

Network Rail said trains run at reduced speed in high winds to allow more time for them to react to anything which may fall across the line.

There were also problems on the roads with highways officers warning of debris being blown around.  A van was blown over on the A259 South Coast Road as the traffic felt the impact of the storm.  Stevie Bartholomew, 47, of Stevie B’s Removals and Storage, was driving near Hansey Road in Saltdean when his removal van “practically took off”.

He escaped with a “sore elbow” but could not recover his van. Police said it was “too dangerous”.

The ferries from Newhaven to Dieppe were suspended as waves crashed over Newhaven Harbour.

The weather warning is suspected to be lifted today and transport should return to normal.