UP to 60 homes were damaged after a suspected tornado whipped through group of Benfleet streets.

Many homes in The Lawns, The Fairway, Eversley Road, Woodside Avenue and Arundel Road lost roof tiles while a handful had chimney pots and television aerials ripped off their roofs.

Fortunately no one was hurt in the freak storm which happened at around 9.15am and lasted just seconds.

Eyewitness Adele Ashdown, 29, of The Lawns, said: “I heard a massive gale.

“The windows were shaking hard. Looking out you could see this grey swirl with lots of stuff in it.

“It was over in a second.”

Miss Ashdown lost a few roof tiles from her home but many houses were left with huge holes in their roofs.

Police closed off The Fairway, where eight homes were effected, and parts of The Lawns, Arundel Road and Seamore Avenue, for safety reasons.

Firefighters used their ariel ladder platform to help repair damaged roofs, while residents began their own clean up mission.

Car windows were smashed by flying debris and the side of a house in Woodside View was seriously damaged and will be examined by a structural engineer.

Highways Agency and Essex County Council staff were also on site within an hour to help with the clean up.

Station officer Simon Dedman said: "A severe storm hit The Fairway area of Benfleet this morning and what is believed to have been a tornado had ripped through the street and surrounding area of up to half a square mile.

“Firefighters worked professionally and their first priority was the safety of the public and then making the houses safe.

"Approximately 60 houses in total were affected, with mainly roof tiles and TV aerials coming off, eight of those houses were seriously affected with some of their roofs being blown off, fire crews made them safe using the aerial ladder platform.”

Crews from Rayleigh Weir and Basildon Fire Stations finfished making the area safe just after 1pm.

* Were you affected? Leave your comments at YOUR SAY