Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Clean-up continues after storms

People walk next to a stormy seafront at Ballintoy in Co Antrim

The clean-up operation following severe gales that caused widespread disruption and left thousands without power is set to last into Wednesday, officials have said.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) confirmed some households face a night without power, but it pledged to have most of the 8,500 properties hit by cuts reconnected by midnight.

Extra engineers were drafted in to cope with the fall-out from storms that reached nearly 80mph in Northern Ireland, though gusts of 105mph were recorded in Donegal.

Fallen trees and branches damaged power lines and blocked roads, while the storms forced the suspension of ferry services and caused widespread damage to property. NIE said north and east coastal areas were worst affected, but said there were faults throughout Northern Ireland.

The company's spokeswoman Sara McClintock said: "We succeeded in restoring power to tens of thousands of customers within the first 12 hours thanks to the tremendous effort of all staff, from engineers and linesmen to logistics and call handling.

"We are concentrating now on restoring power to customers who have experienced the very worst damage caused by this storm."

Repair work will continue on Wednesday in the Ballymena, Ballyclare, Campsie and Bangor areas.

Fallen trees also caused damage to buildings including private homes, schools and business premises. In Enniskillen an Asda store was forced to close after gales ripped off part of its roof. Police closed a number of routes and urged drivers to be cautious.

The ferry crossing from Larne to Cairnryan was also suspended as a result of the weather conditions.

Meanwhile, the storms also forced a further delay in plans to deal with a damaged oil tanker in Belfast Lough. After the vessel suffered a crack in its upper deck, its 54,000 tonnes of oil were to be transferred to a separate carrier. The task should have started on Monday, but was hit by a further delay due to the weather conditions. A spokesman said there was currently no risk to the environment and officials wanted to wait until conditions were calmer before carrying out the oil transfer.

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