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Postcard from Zaharah: A storm by any other name...

What a storm! Friday's Storm Eunice had certainly given respite to other storms ravaging Britain recently, namely the political storm at No. 10 (with the probe into "partygate" still ongoing), and the royal storm that ravages on despite Prince Andrew's jaw-dropping financial out-of-court-settlement for a sexual assault case.

(Virginia Giuffre had claimed that the prince had sexually abused her on three occasions when she was 17.)

Maps of the United Kingdom (UK), which were once recording colour codes of the severity of Covid-19, gave way to maps showing warning alerts of the storm.

Storm Eunice didn't disappoint — the weather forecasts days before became a stark reality as trees were uprooted falling on houses and vehicles thus blocking roads, pedestrians were sent stumbling and crashing across roads, with some clinging on to lampposts for dear life. Iconic buildings, such as the Millennium Dome saw a large section of the £43 million structure left in tatters.

Trains and flights were cancelled. Huge planes looked like toys swaying dangerously in the skies as they attempted to land at Heathrow.

We woke up to the news that Eunice had already claimed four lives and many injured. A doctor friend in our chatgroup reported that she was in an ambulance accompanying a young patient to a hospital. He had walked in, all bloodied and in a daze after a tree fell on his car. Another friend from another part of England had to endure 10 hours without electricity. He was one of 400,000 people left without power.

While the cost of the destruction throughout the country is still being counted, it is fair to say that Britain is facing a clean-up bill of hundreds of millions.

Winds up to 122mph battered the country as the capital was placed under an extremely rare red weather alert.

Staying indoors, I could hear the wind howling outside. Trees were swaying violently. Our shared fence with the neighbour crashed while a huge branch from an old tree across the street fell, but luckily no one was anywhere near.

Friends started forwarded their own images they themselves captured or those being forwarded to them.

There were even pictures of people taking selfies with high waves behind them. There's no end to narcissism and foolhardy behaviour.

Storm Eunice had been hailed as the once in a decade storm and brought to mind the great storm of October 1987.

As it had arrived in London during the night, I slept through the storm with hurricane-force winds that left destruction and devastation and human casualties in the UK, France, and the Channel Islands.

There were then no phones with cameras; no real-time reports from friends or those viralled and made their way into the media. But breaking news showed how famous landscapes, such as Hyde Park with trees hundreds of years old, had changed dramatically. The storm, with winds of 134mph, claimed 22 lives with total damage costing £22 billion.

According to one report: "After the storm, which hit early on Oct. 16, Hyde Park in London looked like a battlefield on which scores of massive old trees, some more than a century old, had been mowed down by artillery fire".

Experts, gardeners and foresters were left in tears as it would seem that "a life's work appeared to go overnight".

When the ferocious wind had died down, I took a walk around the park — it didn't resemble anything like the place where we used to take evening strolls to feed the swans and geese in The Serpentine.

Trees were replanted quite soon after that and I fervently hoped that they have survived Eunice. Indeed, all parks in London were closed. People walking dogs were advised to go home for their own safety.

The 1987 storm was one that BBC weatherman, Michael Fish, had infamously said on the One O'clock news, "a woman rang the BBC and said that apparently she heard that there was a hurricane on the way. But if you are watching, don't worry. There isn't".

Fish has never been allowed to forget this moment, especially with the trail of destruction left by
Eunice.

With fresh warnings for wind in force across parts of the UK, forecasters are now saying that recovery efforts and clean-ups could be delayed or disrupted.

Many train operators have given warnings to postpone travels this weekend as some routes have yet to be reopened.

After leaving a trail of destruction here in the UK, Eunice on its way to Europe, has assumed different names. In Germany, it is known as Zeynep and in Denmark, it is Storm Nora.

A storm by any other name will still leave misery and destruction.

TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION

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