Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Wild beauty amid a storm as winds rip across Northern Ireland

Strong winds batter Ballintoy Harbour
Ballintoy Harbour
An advertising board lies on the ground in a petrol station in Glasgow city centre, as fierce storms battered Britain today, with heavy rain and winds gusting up to 85mph

Northern Ireland was still clearing up today after the storm that ripped across the country.

Around 10,000 homes were left without power at some stage yesterday following wind speeds of up to 80mph which hit right across Northern Ireland.

One 68-year-old woman said she “thought a bomb had gone off” as gale force winds tore the roof off her house as she slept.

Dorothy from Coleraine, who didn’t want to give her surname, was in bed sleeping at around 5am when she got the fright of her life as the flat roof covering her bathroom and back bedroom blew off.

“It actually took the flat back roof off on my chalet bungalow. It ended up about 30 yards down the street,” she said.

Another house up on the north coast had two doors blown right off.

Dorothy was just one of many people across Northern Ireland recovering from the havoc, as gales of almost hurricane force battered both the coast and inland yesterday.

Trees crashed to the ground blocking routes and fallen power lines posed an added danger.

At least two cars were hit by falling trees but there were no reports of any injuries.

According to Sara McClintock from Power NI, repair teams helped restore power to tens of thousands of customers throughout the morning.

“Coastal areas were worst affected with power outages in the Ballymena, Coleraine, Ballymoney, east Antrim and Bangor areas,” she said.

In total, there were almost 500 individual faults across the network. Roads across all six counties were shut yesterday with at least 20 closed for a time while fallen trees were removed and cables repaired.

Those visiting Northern Ireland during the holidays were left out of luck as tourist hotspot the Giant’s Causeway was closed by the high winds.

Also suffering an abrupt end to Christmas was Ballymoney’s tree — snapped in two by gales.

It’s the second time the tree has been the victim of the wind after it had to be taken down before Christmas because of damage.

Several trees also fell on the dual carriageway linking Coleraine and Ballymoney before being cleared away yesterday afternoon. New Row in Coleraine was also closed to both pedestrians and drivers because of falling debris.

Among others affected was a Londonderry pensioner, left badly shaken after a tree crashed close to his home on Monday evening.

Belfast councillor Gavin Robinson also suffered from the stormy conditions after the chimney stack on his home collapsed and fell to the ground.

Enniskillen’s Asda store bore the brunt of howling winds after its roof was left damaged by the gale force conditions.

Meanwhile, in England a 50-year-old man was killed after a tree collapsed on his van.

According to forecasters, although wind speeds will remain high, Northern Ireland is over the worst of the stormy conditions.

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