BBC news video: Storms leave homes without power ‘until at least Boxing Day’

“Engineers have been working flat out to get power back on.”

Some of those hit by power cuts over Christmas could be without electricity until the end of the week after storms left 1,000 homes in England flooded.

The Energy Networks Association said late on Christmas Day that 24,000 properties in the South and South East were still without power.

Homes in the South East and South West had borne the brunt of the flooding, the Environment Agency added.

Two severe flood warnings remain in place in Dorset where rain is forecast.

The Environment Agency warning – meaning there is a danger to life – is still in place for Iford Bridge Home Park on the River Stour in Dorset, which police evacuated overnight.

Liz Gaere, 48, was rescued from the residential development at around 07:00 GMT on Christmas morning.

“We went out on our balcony and saw the flooding and saw the boats coming in,” she said.

“They said to us ‘do you want to come out, you’ve got five minutes’.”

A 79-year-old neighbour Pat Tapply added: “I have nothing apart from what I am standing in. I don’t know if my home is flooded.”

People were also evacuated from the Beaulieu Garden Park Home in Christchurch, Dorset – where a severe flood warning is also in place.

More rain is expected in the already flood-hit county overnight with 10mm forecast to fall.

Tim Field from the Energy Networks Association (ENA) told the BBC the number of those without power was starting to come down but that it could be the end of the week before problems are resolved in heavily flooded areas in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

Leave had been cancelled and extra staff had been brought in to fix the problem, he said.

UK Power Networks, which supplies about eight million customers in the South East, says it arranged Christmas dinner for hundreds of those without power via a mobile catering facility, pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Director of customer services, Matt Rudling, added: “Extra staff are on duty, many of whom have cancelled their leave to help with the repair effort or to join our additional call centres on Christmas Eve and today.”

Meanwhile, about 800 homes in the north of Scotland are still without power, mainly around the Banchory, Buchan and Aboyne areas in Aberdeenshire, and Forres and Fochabers in Elgin.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution said it was hoped all properties would be reconnected on Christmas Day.

Some of the worst disruption was felt at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, where a power outage at the North terminal led to cancellations and delays on Christmas Eve.

Gatwick Airport is now running a full service, but says all flights apart from those with British Airways will be departing from the South terminal. It also advises people to check with airlines before travelling.

In other developments:

  • Some 40 properties were evacuated in Godalming due to concerns about the River Wey
  • Firefighters in Surrey and Kent broke a five-hour nationwide strike to help deal with the effects of the storms
  • Kent Fire and Rescue Service said its control room received 130 calls between 05:00 GMT and midday, and reminded people to ring only if there was a risk to life of serious property damage
  • On the roads, many major routes were flooded or blocked in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Cornwall
  • In France, around 50,000 homes were left without power and flights were grounded as wind and torrential rain swept the country
  • In Dorset, fire crews rescued 25 people trapped in their cars by flood water

Elsewhere, winds of up to 80mph caused disruption to Christmas Eve travel in Scotland, with the Northern and Western Isles hit by ferry and flight cancellations.

There has also been heavy rain in Northern Ireland, while winds in Wales reached 78mph in Pembrey and 77mph in Aberdaron.

More than 10 flood warnings remain in place across mainland Scotland, with high tide being accompanied by heavy rainfall.

And yellow “be aware” warnings for high winds are in place for the Highlands and Islands, Orkney and Shetland.

The Environment Agency (EA) still has close to 100 flood warnings in place for England and Wales – signifying that flooding is “expected”. A yellow alert for heavy rain remains for the southern coastal counties of England.

The agency’s head of operations, David Jordan, told the BBC that officials were keeping a close eye on the Stour and the river flowing through Maidstone in Kent.

BBC Weather said winds and rain would ease across much of the UK on Wednesday evening, although heavy rain and gales are expected to pick up again at the end of the week.

The next storm, expected to hit the UK on Thursday night into Friday, will not be as intense, but has the potential to cause disruption.