Families evacuated from Barkingside flats as crane removes tree toppled by storm St Jude
PUBLISHED: 10:21 04 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:30 04 November 2013
Families were evacuated from a Barkingside flat block as a crane hauled a 30ft tree toppled by storm St Jude off the building.
The giant tree crashed into Lichen Court, in Mossford Green, as wild winds wreaked havoc in Redbridge on Monday morning.
Resident Sandra Dixon, 44, watched the six hour operation to remove it on Friday.
She said: “They tried to lift it out of the building to start with but the back wall started to bend.
“They took as many branches off as they could and used the crane to pull it out – it was like a miracle to see it happening.”
People were ordered out of 10 flats by 7am in the morning for safety and many chose to stay with family overnight.
A large branch of the tree went through the roof of the three-storey block and into a living room.
Margaret Partridge, 58, was in a nearby bedroom when it fell at 6.30am.
“I was semi-awake. It was like something banging on my window really hard... massively hard,” she said.
“My daughter kept shouting, ‘oh my god, oh my god!’”
Fortunately no one was injured but the residents of the damaged flat are living in alternative accommodation while repairs continue.
Sandra believes housing association Family Mosaic should have removed the tree earlier.
She said: “It’s shocking how they left it for so long – we were watching it sink into the building more and more.”
A Family Mosaic spokesman said removal was delayed by high demand for the equipment.
Redbridge Council assessors and surveyors checked the building was structurally safe as soon as the storm passed.
She added: “We responded immediately to reports that a tree had fallen at Lichen Court, and we have taken every effort to ensure the safety of the residents and the building.
“We regret that the tree was not removed earlier. However, every effort was made to safely remove the tree as quickly as possible.”
The tree was one of more than 100 toppled in Redbridge by storm St Jude on October 28, blocking roads, train lines and crushing cars.
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