Lightning strike damages Sussex care home during thunderstorm overnight

  • WATCH: The roof of a care home in West Sussex has been damaged by lightning

Two buildings in Sussex were damaged by lightning strikes overnight, during a huge rolling storm which battered the south coast.

A care home in Elmer was struck with damage to its roof, while a university building in Chichester sustained damaged to its roof and power system.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue said no one was injured from the strikes and residents were relocated to safety while the damage was assessed.

There is also a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services, along with a small possibility of power cuts.

There are 45 flood warnings in place on the Environment Agency website across the South of England following heavy rain and thunderstorms.

  • WATCH: Drone footage shows lightning strikes over Worthing on Wednesday night

This video contains flashing images

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said in a Facebook post: "Fire crews were called to a lightning strike which damaged the roof at a residential care home in Alleyne Way, Elmer, at 1.44am today (Thursday 2 May).

"No fire was found and residents have been safely relocated. SSE also attended to make the electricity supply safe.

"Eight residents were safely relocated and are being supported and cared for through a multi-agency, health and social care response.

"Crews were also called to a lightning strike at a university building in College Lane, Chichester, at 2.24am.

"The roof and electrics were damaged. Students were safely relocated while damage was assessed. SSE attended to make the electricity supply safe."

WATCH: A neighbour says a window at her house was also damaged in the storm

Daniella Cropanese lives next door to the care home and said a part of a window at her property was smashed in the storm.

She said: "We were lucky to catch a bar of service long enough for the emergency services to get here.

"The debris smashed the bathroom window downstairs and my bedroom window. Luckily it hasn't gone through both panels of glazing but it's caused a lot of damage."

A nearby resident, David Brackpool, witnessed emergency services outside the care home shortly after the lightning strike.

He said: "My wife said there was blue flashing lights out the front. We came down and there was three fire engines and police walking around. We then noticed a big hole in the side of the building!"

Another neighbour, Heather Calvert, said residents of the care home were quickly loaded into grey vans.

She said: "They all seemed quite calm. It was just frightening for them, I think."

Lightning near the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on Wednesday night Credit: Ian Gray

Marco Petagna, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said some places could see their warmest temperatures of the year.

This would come a day after Wednesday saw temperatures peak at their highest yet in 2024 at 22.1C.

He said: “After a night of storms, the rain will ease in the south of England for a while tomorrow. We could see the skies brightening up in a few places and it will be another warm day.

"Parts of the South East could even get to 24 degrees and beat today’s temperatures.

“But as the skies brighten and temperatures increase, this could spark a few more thundery showers in the afternoon, so it is likely to still be a bit unsettled and the forecast will be changeable over the next few days.”

The Met Office advised the storms might cause travel disruption and some flooding, leading to “difficult driving conditions and some road closures”.

Looking ahead to the Bank Holiday weekend, Mr Petagna said the forecast showed a “very mixed picture”.

Last October, lightning caused a 'huge explosion' near to Oxford after lightning struck a waste tank at a recycling plant.

Lightning struck what's known as a digester tank at the food waste recycling firm, Severn Trent Green Power in Yarnton.

Police and 40 firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue were called to the scene, and power distributor, SSEN, faced power cuts due to the ferocity of the explosion.

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