East of England weathers Storm Eunice as major incident declared, schools close and events cancelled

  • Watch Natalie Gray and Rob Setchell report from the East of the ITV News Anglia region

The East of England was battered by Storm Eunice, with a woman seriously injured by a fallen tree and a major incident being declared in another county amid widespread travel disruption.

In Bedford, winds toppled a tree that fell on a woman with a baby. The baby was uninjured, but the woman has had to be airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

Elsewhere across the East of England more than 110,000 properties were left without power, including more than 21,000 in Essex and more than 13,000 in Suffolk.

Travel was thrown into chaos too as Greater Anglia suspended rail services and Highways England urged people not to travel.

A tree fell in Bedford and left a woman with serious injuries Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich was closed due to the high winds as was the QE2 Bridge in Essex.

Airports in the region were urging people to check before they travel.

Emergency services were kept busy across the region, with Hertfordshire County Council reporting more than 175 fallen trees in that county alone.

  • Watch Sarah Cooper and Matthew Hudson report from the West of the ITV News Anglia region

In Essex, the county's fire and rescue service said it was its busiest period for 30 years.

Area manager Neil Fenwick said the service had "absolutely inundated" and had been dealing with 100 calls an hour since 11am.

"Things like fronts of hotels have been blown out in Maldon, lorries overturned on the M11 and M25," he said. "It’s the busiest the service has been in 30 years."

The Met Office updated its amber weather warning to red at 5am on Friday, in anticipation of extremely strong and potentially dangerous winds hitting the Anglia region.

In Suffolk, community leaders declared a "major incident" as the county prepares for winds that could reach 90mph.

The Suffolk Resilience Forum met with emergency services, utility companies and health bodies this morning before making the decision and said it would meet every two hours to assess the situation.

The winds toppled this tree in Sudbury in Suffolk Credit: ITV

A red weather warning is a rare step, but one the Met Office said it deemed necessary, saying that flying debris could pose a danger to life.

Steps were also taken to protect rough sleepers from the weather conditions, with Breckland Council in Norfolk among those to open its homeless shelters.

Already more than 150 schools in Suffolk have been closed - the only county not currently on half term - with pupils switched to remote learning instead.

In Bedfordshire, winds tore through the stands of Barton Rovers Football Club.

In a tweet the club said "credit to @toppstiles their adhesive is made of strong stuff" Credit: @bartonroversfc

In Ipswich, the council closed any park that could be locked, advising people to stay home.

Elsewhere, scheduled bin collections have been postponed in some authority areas, with Huntingdonshire District Council among those to postpone its services.

A fallen tree in Barkers Lane in Sprowston, Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

On the Norfolk coast, flood gates in Hunstanton are to be shut at all high tides over weekend.

In Elveden, Centre Parcs holiday resort has been closed and Wroxham Barns on the Norfolk Broads will also be shut.

All National Trust sites - Blickling Estate, Oxburgh Hall and other National Trust sites in the East of England are closed as well as Banham Zoo and Africa Alive.