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Winds rip roof off flats in Southampton
7:38am Monday 10th February 2014 in News
“I THOUGHT the world was ending.”
They are the words of a shocked Hampshire mum as she looked at the damage caused when high winds ripped the roof off the block of flats where she lives.
The material flew through the air from the top of the four-storey block and smashed on to the car park some 40ft below – narrowly missing a dad and his toddler son, Khuja and Jawad Hamidi, aged two.
The debris wrecked two cars and damaged several others in Golden Grove, St Mary’s, at about 5pm on Saturday.
Miraculously no one was hurt.
At least six families have been evacuated from the top floor of the block and put up by the city council at the Jury’s Inn in Southampton.
Housewife Reda Rena, 28, said: “It was scary. I heard a very loud bang. I thought the world was ending. My baby was sleeping but my son, who is two, was scared.
“We are at the hotel.
Someone is coming tomorrow to see if the roof can be fixed then we can come back. I don’t know what we are going to do.”
Anna Meler was also evacuated.
Relieved Khuja Hamidi with his son Jawad after their lucky escape.
She said: “I was in the kitchen. My husband was coming back from Tesco with my son. It just missed them.
Half of the roof was hanging down.
“My son was screaming and crying. I was happy nothing happened but I started to cry as well.”
One of the severely damaged vehicles was a 56-reg Citroen Xsara. The other was so completely covered by the roofing it was impossible to see what it was.
Daylight yesterday saw Golden Grove residents examining the damage outside their homes.
There was anger about how the city council has responded as the building, without its roof, lay open to the elements.
Eamonn Callan (above), 47, said: “They came out on Saturday and said it was an emergency but we can’t do anything until Monday. An assessor is coming out.
“The council say if they can’t do a temporary repair then we will have to leave.
“They offered me a hotel but I want to stay in my home. To leave would be devastating. It could be for months.”
The electricity was turned off on the top floor at about 10.30pm on Saturday, making it uninhabitable.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It was just like a bomb exploding. There were things flying all over.
“Luckily I had moved my car. It was very scary. It is a miracle no one was killed.”
Shiraz Khan, 30, a bus driver, said: “It was truly like an explosion. A friend of mine was passing with his son. He is really lucky to be alive. He just saw it flying in time and pulled his son away.”
Janice Hunt (above) said: “There was an enormous, loud bang.
Then the fire brigade arrived and they were brilliant. The problem is that the council are not maintaining the building.”
Something similar happened at another block in Golden Grove about three years ago.
Mr Callan said: “Did they check the other blocks? If they didn’t then this was an accident waiting to happen.”
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a nightmare.
The problem the council now has is that they have to check all the other blocks. That is going to cost money they don’t have.”
Wendy Ring, 48, a catering assistant, is currently staying with friends. She said: “I was out and got a call to say i had better come back.
It is disgusting that it has not been cleared up. You can’t get to the bins.
“My daughter, Natalie Cook, has two cats and I don’t know where they are going to go. Hopefully something will be sorted on Monday.”
Cllr Warwick Payne, the council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “Roof repair is technical work and you have to get the right people to carry out the work and that is what we will do. We don’t want any serious damage a minute longer than necessary, especially if people have been moved out. I will be knocking heads together at the Civic Centre on Monday morning.”