The meteorology office issued a red warning, and at four in the afternoon when the storm was fearsome, the electricity was cut off. I had been using the mobile phone at the time ignorant of the outage and had run its battery down. No mobile. Only our trusty old phone, connected directly into the phone socket, now linked us to the outside world

‘Community spirit’ is a phrase, which I had thought was overused whenever I saw it on TV news programmes about local disasters, house fires, floods, and deaths caused by out of control cars or lorries. Old ladies with benign faces would comment about how good they had been in helping a poor unfortunate victim, or a man would declare that no one suspected anything like the disaster, which had occurred, could ever happen. Yet within the first hour, neighbours called to check we were OK, so did my uncle from London, 300 miles away.

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