Remembering the night the Great Storm struck Sussex
MEMORIES of devastation and destruction came flooding back for many as Monday heralded the 25th anniversary of the The Great Storm.
Cars were crushed, buildings destroyed and parts of the town were without power for days as the biggest storm in nearly 300 years ripped through the town.
Crawley had its fair share of disruption as trees were uprooted, schools were shut, trains halted and many areas left without electricity, water and phone lines.
Miraculously, nobody was killed in the storm, despite some very close shaves.
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One man came within seconds of death in Gales Drive, Three Bridges, when a tree crushed his van as he was about to get into it.
And a Southgate family escaped unharmed when a tree crashed through their home in Caburn Heights.
An oak tree crashed through the garage of Margaret Goodwin's home in Mill Lane, Copthorne.
Now 72, she recalled: "We woke up to hear branches skidding over the roof of the house and it wasn't that long before we heard a huge creaking and whooshing noise as the tree came down.
"The garage had my son's car in. It was a Sunbeam Lotus he had been doing up and it wasn't covered by insurance. Fortunately the house and garage itself were covered.
"A few branches came through the roof and damaged our bedroom ceiling but luckily they didn't come through. It was quite an exciting night.
"We all ended up evacuating downstairs to the living room, listening to the news on a battery powered radio. It felt a bit like being back in the war days all huddled around with no power."
The lack of electricity for two to three days meant that Mrs Goodwin, along with her husband Alan and their two sons, had to rely on a cooker in their caravan for making food.
Mrs Goodwin added: "The caravan was knocked over by some pine trees which came down across the garden.
"We got the caravan back upright and were able to use the cooker inside to make food."
Crawley Model Railway Society had its clubhouse in Tilgate Park crushed by a beech tree during the storm.
Mark Burton, who has been a member of the club for 34 years, was the first to see the damage the morning after.
The 53-year-old, from Ashdown Drive, Tilgate, said: "The building was divided into two parts and one half of it was completely destroyed.
"There was a large tree at one end of the clubhouse which basically crushed the building.
"It was a hut in a forest so we were always high risk. Fortunately, we didn't keep any model engines there.
"We didn't have a premises for 18 months and had to run exhibitions out of community centres."
Ifield Park Care Home was without any power for days and had to rely on emergency generators to cook for residents.
Amy Harvey, who still volunteers at the home now, was a part-time care assistant at the time.
The 89-year-old said: "I used to work for Duracell so I got in touch with them and they lent us a couple of generators and half a dozen torches.
"We had to be careful walking around in the dark and without the torches and generators it would have been very difficult."