RESIDENTS left their homes last night after storm-force winds blew part of the roof off a block of flats causing traffic chaos for commuters this morning.
Firefighters were called to Carmel Heights in Bexhill Road, St Leonards close to the junction with Bulverhythe Road around 8.15pm yesterday (TUES).
Winds of up to 70mph had blown part of the flat roof off the four storey building as the unrelenting winter storms continue to batter 1066 Country.
The flying masonry smashed several windows in the building and the roof was left dangling over the side of the building.
The road was closed and the area cordoned off to prevent pedestrians or vehicles travelling anywhere near it.
Firefighters were unable to reach the roof as the strength of the wind was too strong for it to be safe.
Residents living in the top floor secured their valuables from getting wet before leaving to stay with friends and familuy for the evening.
Those living on the lower floors were allowed to stay in their property overnight.
The area was still cordoned off this morning causing major traffic delays across West St Leonards to the Bexhill area.
The A259 was closed between the junction of Harley Shute Road and Cinque Ports Way.
Traffic backed up Filsham Road as a diversion was put in place along Harley Shute Road.
Motorists travelling in to Hastings from Bexhill were diverted up Harley Shute Road. Other motorists were travelling through Sidley and Crowhurst to reach their destination.
The diversion was due to stay in place until the building was declared safe.
George O’Reilly, station manager for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, based at Bohemia Road fire station, said: “The wind had flipped half the roof over but it was so bad we could not get up on the roof.
It had removed the felt and battons and it was left dangling over the side of the building.
“If had fallen down onto the ground it could have killed a pedestrian or someone in a car so we had to close the area off.
“We wanted to get up and nail it down to make it safe but it was too dangerous. It was too windy to put up our aerial platform ladder. “We asked residents if they wanted to leave and they made sure their valuables were secured and protected from the rain.
“Most people living on the top floor decided to leave and stay elsewhere for the night.
“The road was still closed this morning while efforts are made to make the property safe.”