| 12°C Belfast

Mayhem as Storm Dennis rips Dundonald shop fronts apart

Gale mayhem could have led to tragedy, says 'devastated' business owner

Close

Andrea Millen who owns Valley Barbers pictured behind damaged during Storm Dennis on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Andrea Millen who owns Valley Barbers pictured behind damaged during Storm Dennis on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Storm damage caused to shops on Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald

Storm damage caused to shops on Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Storm damage caused to shops on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Waves pounding Killough in Co Down

Waves pounding Killough in Co Down

Photopress

A fallen tree on the Steedstown Road outside Lisburn

A fallen tree on the Steedstown Road outside Lisburn

Andrea Millen who owns Valley Barbers pictured behind damaged during Storm Dennis on the Gilnahirk Road in Dundonald on February 16th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Business owners have said it is a miracle that no one got hurt after several shops near Dundonald were torn apart by Storm Dennis.

The incident happened on the Gilnahirk Road at lunchtime yesterday, with the brickwork and signs collapsing at five of the shops after being ripped apart by strong gusts.

Surveying the scene in the aftermath, several owners of the affected businesses told of their shock and devastation, as bricks and rubble lay strewn across the nearby car park.

Andrea Millen (48) owns Valley Barbers and has worked there for 16 years.

She was alerted to what happened after receiving a phone call from a local garage.

"It was just mayhem, the front of all the buildings just came down," she said.

"It is just by the grace of God that it wasn't yesterday. It is so busy along here, children and young families, that if this had of happened yesterday, it is not even worth thinking about.

"Someone would have got killed, definitely.

"It is absolutely devastating. I have great staff, it has taken me two years to build up to where I am.

"It is a great wee business and it is sad at this stage for me and the staff and the people that live around here.

"As a business owner I am devastated, but I am just thankful it happened today and no one is hurt.

"I have spoken to all the rest of the owners here and we are just all devastated. Everybody is trying to support their local businesses and this is a real hub of the local community.

"My landlord has got builders coming tomorrow and they will remove the brickwork and rubble. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they tell us we can get in on Tuesday. It will be a miracle if that is the case, but you never know."

Patrick McQuiston (33) owns the Five Percent Cafe at the end of the row. He said that they were in the middle of a 35 capacity service when there was a sudden rush of dust and debris.

"There was a crash and a bit of a rumble, followed by a dust cloud coming past our window," he said.

"For us it is disappointing for business, but we are just so happy that it happened on a day like today when it is only ourselves that are open.

"Thankfully everyone got out safely because it could have been awful.

"If this had happened on Saturday when there is a queue outside the barbers with kids and everything, it would have been a disaster."

Storm Dennis led to localised flooding in west Belfast, Cookstown and large parts of the Co Down coastline, where waves crashed over roads and sea walls.

The second named storm to hit the UK in as many weeks took its toll on a catalogue of sporting fixtures across the weekend, with four games in the NIFL Championship postponed due to high winds and torrential rain.

A number of parks were also closed as a precaution due to the risk of falling trees, including Victoria Park in east Belfast.

There was also headache for travellers, with disruption to flights between Belfast International Airport and London.

Stena's sailing schedule was affected, with delays on the Belfast to Liverpool service and the Saturday departure from Rosslare to Cherbourg cancelled.

Yesterday morning also saw 1,800 Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) customers left without power for several hours in the village of Belleek in Co Fermanagh.

NIE confirmed that the disruption was caused as a result of overhead power lines being taken down in the storm. Supply was restored to the customers by 5pm yesterday.

A yellow Met Office warning for wind remains in place here until 11am, with scattered showers and some sleet and snow expected at higher ground today.

The wind is expected to ease into tomorrow, but it is still advised that there will be occasional gusts of up to 45mph.

Belfast Telegraph