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Whirlwind of news activity as tornado hit capital

A whirlwind of activity at the Times series of newspapers in London followed in the wake of a tornado which struck at the centre of its news patch.

With Wednesday’s print edition of the Willesden & Brent Times, Wembley & Kingsbury Times and Kilburn Times a distant memory, the team quickly got to work updating its website with pictures of the devastation in Kensal Rise and eye witness reports.

Two photographers were sent out to the scene, along with reporter Jenny Engstrom who spent hours speaking to those affected and visited the refuge centre set up for those unable to return to their properties.

She also secured an exclusive interview with a women who had had her house completely demolished, and was interviewed herself by Sky News.

Reporter Charlie Chute was tasked with manning the phones and gathering details from the authorities, and the team, including editor Tim Cole, were still in the newsroom uploading content to the website late into the evening.

A number of homes were wrecked after the tornado ripped through the Chamberlayne Road area at about 11am.

Tim said: “We come out on a Wednesday so there was nothing we could do about that, but we began updating the website in the immediate aftermath and I was still here at 11 o’clock at night.

“We are about 20 minutes walk away but the building felt it here. I’ve never felt wind like that, or heard wind like that, going through the building.”

In addition to its online coverage, Tim said an eight-page pull-out was planned for the Wednesday’s print editions, and its the usual 50,000 print run for the series was likely to be “vastly expanded”.

He said: “It shows why we need the web – that’s the way we can match what the nationals can do.

“But we now have a full week to follow the story up and look at the effects. Everyone will want to read about it and they know we will be the only place to get it.”

Also covering the story live, was the breaking news team at Newsquest’s

Although none of the group’s titles cover the area where the tornado hit, the site covers the whole of the capital.

Web journalist Martina Smit travelled from her Watford office to speak to eye witnesses and take pictures, while colleagues Peter Law and Ruth Holmes gathered advice for those affected from Brent Council, Transport for London, emergency services and the Association of British Insurers.