Blaise Tapp: Storm Eunice won’t be forgotten in a hurry!

It’s not often that millions of people personally experience the same news story at the same time but that’s exactly what happened when Storm Eunice hit these shores last week.

By Jane Chippindale
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th February 2022, 8:01 am

Blaise Tapp writes: For 48 hours last week, the storm of the century, as it was breathlessly described by at least one national newspaper sub editor, was all most of us were talking about.

Even the grim goings on in Ukraine were pushed down the news agenda as we both prepared for and later endured truly terrifying winds, which reached speeds of up to 78mph inland and 122mph off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

It lived up to its hype and wreaked devastation across large parts of the UK, tragically claiming the lives of three people, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power and causing damage estimated to cost at least a third of a billion pounds.

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I’m grateful that none of my friends and loved ones suffered any injuries or serious damage to their properties, but it is an event none of us will forget in a hurry, largely due to the fact that we all saw it unfold.

Most big storms that I’ve lived through have happened at night when the only clue to the carnage outside was the sound of emptying recycling bins and the screech of car alarms.

Last Friday, the goings on in back gardens, streets and cul-de-sacs distracted millions of us from work or domestic tasks.

I couldn’t take my eyes off our fence, although I was quietly confident in the fact that because we’d paid a bloke to fix it in the autumn that it would hold against the fury of Eunice.

It didn’t. We lost a panel and the recently erected fence post is well on its way to doubling as a limbo pole.

We got off very lightly but I like to think that much of that was down to the prep work I did in the hours before the storm hit.

Not known for being practical, I was spurred on to prepare by the prospect of being made the scapegoat in the event that the kids’ trampoline was to be propelled through our kitchen window or, even worse, our neighbours’.

Trampolines are a modern day menace; if you or your little darling don’t end up in A&E as a result then there’s always the risk of a strong gust causing them to wipe out greenhouses or that brand new Tesla in the next street.

For a couple of minutes before the storm, after partly dismantling the trampoline and removing anything which could double as a missile, I felt like an old fashioned dad - one of those handy types who always has a pencil behind his ear.

Inevitably, there are those who sneer about how this country grinds to a halt whenever we are hit with adverse weather conditions.

Messages on online stories about storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin included those from mean spirited types who believe you are only allowed to moan about bad weather if you live in America’s MidWest or South East Asia.

These people think we make too much fuss whenever there is snow, high winds or flooding, probably because they see it as a betrayal of the very British stiff upper lip.

They’re wrong: What many of us lived through in recent days was genuinely bad weather, conditions some of us haven’t ever witnessed before.

Here’s to spring, warmer, calmer days and not a broken fence panel in sight.