WORTHING was considered to have escaped lightly on Monday as ‘superstorm’ St Jude battered much of the south east.
Commuters were stranded as Network Rail suspended all Southern and Gatwick Express services until midday and bus routes were also severely affected.
But the town did not fare as badly as was predicted, which Worthing firefighters attributed to the advanced warnings and people taking precautionary measures.
At 6am on Monday, crews attended Fernhurst Court in Brooklyn Avenue, Goring, where large parts of a flat roof had blown off, causing considerable damage to cars beneath it.
Shortly afterwards, at 6.40am, firefighters were called to Seabright on West Parade, Worthing, where an elderly couple on the eighth floor were trying to hold their window still, as it had been damaged by wind and needed securing.
A tree was also blown over in Ham Road, East Worthing.
Refuse and recycling collections were cancelled, too.
Elsewhere, the strong winds tore the flat roof off Freddysmile’s charity warehouse in Chartwell Road, Lancing, which crushed two cars and a burger van.
Around 500 square metres of bitumen roof came crashing down, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Co-founder Warren Street said that the charity will lose up to £600 a week while repairs are carried out.
He said: “Vehicles don’t matter. They can be replaced. None of us were hurt and that’s what really matters.
“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 now ruined. There’s no way we an use it again for events. We will have to buy a new one.”
Sussex Police received more than 500 weather-related calls.
Superintendent Grenville Wilson led the 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 issued 12 coastal flood alerts right along the coast and there was more rain than predicted, but we did not see any significant problems.”
Nationally, four people are known to have died as a result of the storm.
Bethany Freeman, 17, suffered fatal injuries when a tree came down on the caravan she was sleeping in Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent.
Donal Drohan, 51, from Harrow, was pronounced dead at the scene after a tree crushed a red Peugeot 307 in Watford, Hertfordshire.
A man and woman died in west London following a suspected gas explosion after a tree fell during high winds in Hounslow.
More wet weather is forecast for this weekend.