Lightning storms leave villages recovering

WHILE thunder and lightning crashed around Sidmouth last night, it was Newton Poppleford and Ottery St Mary that suffered the most.

WHILE thunder and lightning crashed around Sidmouth last night, it was Newton Poppleford and Ottery St Mary that suffered the most.

"Sidmouth got off lightly," said a Sidmouth police spokeswoman.

Shop alarms were set off by the storm and office workers arrived this morning to discover fuses blown and computers and telephones were temporarily affected.

A Toyota Land Cruiser, driven by a disabled man, ended up in a hedge on the A3052 at Newton Poppleford at 1am, and was helped, uninjured, from the vehicle by police.

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The vehicle was left in situ, to be recovered later yesterday morning.

Sidmouth Police Sergeant Andy Turner and two of his PCSOs, Dave Wallace and Steve Blanchford-Cox, were sent to Daisymount on the A30 to help with traffic control following a series of incidents.

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Sgt Turner told the Herald: "I have been up since 4am. Some people in Newton Poppleford had their houses flooded."

In the village, an elderly man was rescued from his flooded riverside home by Sidmouth firefighters yesterday morning after the ground floor of his house beside the River Otter was inundated by 18 inches of water.

The man had been marooned upstairs, said Stuart Collings, station officer for Sidmouth.

"He was taken to a friend's house in Tipton St John," said Mr Collings, who has been out with other fire fighters "all night" dealing with incidents in Newton Poppleford and the Ottery St Mary area.

Two crews from Sidmouth assisted other fire crews during the night.

At West Hill Mr Collings and his team rescued a woman stranded in her car in flood water.

He said: "She was okay and found a safe house in West Hill to spend the night."

He added: "The hail in West Hill was 18 inches deep. I've never seen anything like it before. It has been a cold, miserable night for everyone.

Sgt Turner said one lorry driver on the A30 had said the hail had been so thick he had given up trying to drive through it.

"It was treacherous," he said. "There have been a series of accidents and lots of abandoned vehicles at Daisymount and the roads to Ottery St Mary are closed."

Mr Collings said Sidmouth was lucky to escape the brunt of the storm, which he felt was partly due to the River Sid flowing directly into the sea.

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