'It's like a nightmare': Barking community rallies together after tornado

Azad Ali of Shirley Gardens clearing up

Azad Ali of Shirley Gardens cleared up his drive after Friday's tornado - Credit: Ken Mears

People have described their "nightmare" experiences as heavy winds swept through Barking. 

Barking and Dagenham Council confirmed houses, telephone lines and cars around Hulse Avenue were badly hit on Friday evening by what Met Office forecaster Matthew Box said was probably a "brief tornado".

Shirley Gardens resident Azad Ali described how his daughter and wife were in the garden watering the plants when their garden swing started flying. 

The tornado completely destroyed this wall in Shirley Gardens

The tornado completely destroyed this wall in Shirley Gardens - Credit: Ken Mears

He told this paper: “It started slowly, then it was swinging higher and higher. 

“Our garden chairs started moving by themselves. 

“My daughter was screaming, and I shouted at them to get inside the house. 

“It was very scary.” 

The family ran around their home, shutting windows and doors, as tiles began falling off the roof. 

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The civil servant added: “We secured our windows with broom handles to stop them flying off. 

“We've heard of tornados in America, but we’ve never had one here before.” 

Replacement fences being brought in to repair those lost in the tornado

Replacement fences being brought in to repair those lost in the tornado - Credit: Ken Mears

He said the family’s trampoline flew from their garden into the garden next door.  

“I still don’t know where my fence is,” he added. 

“It's like a nightmare.” 

Around the corner on Wilmington Gardens, 69-year-old Val Shaw was reading in her front room when the winds hit. 

Wilmington Gardens resident Val Shaw

Wilmington Gardens resident Val Shaw was shaken by Friday's tornado - Credit: Ken Mears

She watched in horror as rubbish began flying around her garden. However, the winds were too strong for her to pick the waste up. 

Val, who lives alone, took cover inside her house and watched as the tornado unfolded. 

“It was horrendous”, she said. 

“You just stand there in shock. 

“I didn’t know what it was and what to do.” 

After about 10 minutes, residents gathered outside, inspecting the damage to their homes. 

Azad said his road rallied round to fix roofs and collect rubbish.

“The whole street helped each other," he said. 

“We're like one big family."

Workmen repairing damaged roof tiles in Shirley Gardens after the tornado struck

Workmen repairing damaged roof tiles in Shirley Gardens after the tornado struck - Credit: Ken Mears

Val, however, remains shaken by Friday's incident.

She said: “You work for your whole life, trying to better yourself, and then something like this comes along and kicks you. 

“It made me feel like I don’t want to live here anymore.” 

A collapsed wall in Shirley Gardens

A collapsed wall in Shirley Gardens - Credit: Ken Mears

A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said there were no injuries from the tornado.

On Saturday, the council's response team cleared approximately 40 tonnes of debris.

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