POWERFUL winds tore the roof off a charity’s warehouse, crushing two cars and a burger van as St Jude’s storm ripped through Lancing on Monday.
Freddysmile’s warehouse in Chartwell Road, Lancing, was felt the full force of the storm when the flat roof was peeled off by gale-force gusts.
Around 500 square metres of bitumen roof came crashing down on top of two parked cars, including one belonging to Freddysmile’s founder Kelly Street.
The charity’s burger van was toppled by the impact, falling onto Kelly’s Mercedes.
Co-founder Warren Street said: “Vehicles don’t matter. They can be replaced. None of us were hurt and that’s what really matters.”
“I’m very disappointed. I was up early because I had so much to do this morning but I have done nothing apart from walk around thinking ‘Oh dear, where do I go from here?’”
“I’m frustrated and upset more than anything. It’s just annoying that our vehicles were there and normally they are safe.”
Warren has cancelled all deliveries and collections until further notice. He hopes to be able to resume business as usual by Friday.
Half of the warehouses’s carpark is covered by the fallen roof, and the charity faces losing thousands of pounds in lost business over the coming weeks.
Warren said: “We are open but we can’t have that many people come round because we are missing eight or nine parking spaces.
“The burger van is a complete write-off.”
“There’s no way we an use it again for events. We will have to buy a new one.”
Part of the roof was left dangling from the top of the three-storey building.
Warren said they managed to drag Kelly’s Mercedes out from under the roof on Tuesday, but it was also likely to be written off.
“I’ve had to use the charity’s mini bus to get to work today,” said Warren.
“I never imagined this would happen. You always think you’ll be alright.”
The building’s owner, Francis Kang, said he was relieved no one was injured.
“We have to think of the positives. Nobody was hurt,” he said.
Mr Kang said he believed a ‘freak wind’ of up to 130mph must have hit the building in order to cause so much damage.
The top floor of the building is home to candlemakers DeeLights, run by Dee Bray, who described the scene that greeted her on Monday morning as ‘mad’.
Dee said: “Luckily there was no damage. Everything is fine but you can look through the ceiling and see daylight.
“I’m just worried about all my stock.”