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County gets off lightly as big storm batters the South
Buy this photo » A wall was blown over in Chilswell Road, South Oxford
IT WAS the storm that everyone dreaded.
And yet, although wind speeds reached 70mph and left more than 1,000 homes without power, the St Jude storm was never quite as bad in Oxfordshire as was feared.
But among those who were affected were the county’s commuters, as trains to London, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Manchester were cancelled due to fallen trees and other damage.
County highways officers dealt with more than 70 incidents involving fallen or leaning trees, and engineers from Southern Electric worked all day to restore supply to about 1,000 properties affected by power cuts.
In Chilswell Road, South Oxford, a six-foot-high wall was toppled by the wind.
Many commuters were left stranded at Oxford station after several London services were cancelled, and replacement buses were laid on between Bicester Town and Oxford.
Chiltern Railways spokeswoman Nicola Clark said: “The heavy storms caused 18 trees to fall across the Chiltern Railways route.
“We started to run trains to and from London Marylebone at 11.15am.”
Oxfordshire County Council said its staff worked through the night to ease the problems caused by the weather.
Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “I would like to thank staff who worked during the weekend and through the early hours to make sure Oxfordshire was as prepared as possible for the high winds that had been forecast to hit the UK for some days.
“In the event, other parts of the UK probably fared worse than Oxfordshire.
“However, a significant number of trees fell during the weather, and a lot of work went in during the small hours and in to the morning.”
He said council officers had been on standby throughout the night and the first storm-related call came in at 3.10am.
Southern Oxfordshire was the most affected part of the county, with the largest number of tree-related calls.
By the early afternoon, the driving rain and heavy winds had given way to sunshine and the odd rain shower, although wind speeds remained fairly high.
Met Office forecaster Tom Morgan said: “Oxfordshire did see gusts of 60 to 70mph. They were quite widespread across the county. The rest of the week will stay unsettled, but not nearly as bad.”
Council services continued as normal in all five districts, with bin collections made in West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse. Oxford City and Cherwell binmen do not collect on a Monday.
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