Belfast Telegraph

Oxygen airlifted to Belfast man trapped by snow

Emergency oxygen supplies were airlifted to an elderly man in Northern Ireland trapped by heavy snow, police said.

He had no electricity and dwindling supplies and a police helicopter was used to deliver more cylinders to the 79-year-old at his home north of Belfast.

He was one of thousands of victims of blizzard conditions which have lashed the region over the weekend and caused snowdrifts up to 18 feet high.

A police spokesman said: "Several attempts were made by local police to get to the man but the road was impassable. The police helicopter was then tasked to airlift the casualty to hospital. However, the man was unable to be moved as he was so weak and frail, so the helicopter was then used to deliver vital oxygen."

He lives in the Newtownabbey area, Co Antrim, which is one of the most badly affected by storms.

It could be several days before services in remote areas of Northern Ireland are restored because of bad weather. Emergency crews worked constantly over the weekend to return electricity to thousands of homes cut off by the poor weather.

Many roads were blocked. At one stage water supplies dried up and an RAF helicopter transported mountain rescue teams to the most vulnerable. Some essential medications were carried on foot to marooned communities, police said.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Inspector Tim Mairs said: "This has been very sharp, extreme weather. We have to ensure that those people who are isolated do get access to heat, food and water."

Electricity repair crews were assisted by staff from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland but Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said it could be several days before power was restored to all customers.

The situation has improved for many since Saturday morning, when 35,000 electricity customers were cut off and up to 1,000 homes were without water. Northern Ireland Water said water supply has now been restored to most customers. Counties Down and Antrim in the east of Northern Ireland have been hardest hit.

The chief inspector added: "Whilst we are not expecting any further snow we have still a lot of disruption on high ground and that is having an impact on the electricity supply, the road network and in certain areas the water supply.

"All our partners are working exceptionally hard to reduce that impact and a lot of areas are being restored.

"The conditions are extremely hard, we are aware of communities isolated as a result of the conditions and within that individuals particularly at risk with health conditions."

Police search and rescue teams are working with other government agencies and volunteers as well as North West Mountain Rescue.

Mr Mairs added: "Staff including our own are working in extremely inhospitable environments, NIE electricians are having to be airlifted into areas, search and rescue teams have to walk miles to get medications to people.

"We are working exceptionally hard to identify the vulnerable and ensure the resources we have go to the people at the most risk."

Julia Carson, NIE's communications manager, said electricity poles had been broken and trees had fallen across power lines.

"The weather does seem to be improving, wind speeds have dropped, but due to the extent of the damage across northern and eastern counties it may be a few days before customers are back on supply."

NIE has been using a helicopter to identify damage to its power network in rural and exposed areas. NIE patrols concentrated on areas around Torr Head, Mallusk, Dundrod, Stoneyford and Carr's Glen in County Antrim and Craigantlet in County Down on Sunday.

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: "Those living in isolated and difficult to reach areas cannot be forgotten about.

"Just because the main roads and arterial routes are clear does not mean that rural communities can be left to dig themselves out of the appalling weather conditions."

Roads Minister Danny Kennedy said more than 300 Roads Service staff across Northern Ireland had kept the road network open.

He said: "I commend all the emergency crews and emergency services who have been working constantly since we saw the amber weather warning issued on Thursday.

"Our main efforts are focused on serving people and mindful of those living in isolated rural areas."

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Latest roads news

Snow clearing continued overnight on closed routes and a number of routes have been reopened overnight.

Many routes remain closed due to snow accumulations over the past three days. The worst affected areas are the high ground in:
Ballymoney,Moyle, Antrim and Larne and Ballymena in Northern Division
South Down area around the Mournes and Dromara Hills in Southern Division.
Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Lisburn and north Down areas in Eastern Division.

The operation of snow clearing is ongoing with Roads Service plant being deployed from other parts of the Divisions. This is backed up by approximately 135 items of large plant including track excavators, quarry shovels, snow ploughs and telehandlers provided by contractors and  Rivers Agency.

Wind speeds have reduced, resulting in less snow drifting from the adjoining lands which is greatly hampering previous snow clearing operations. Drivers are advised to exercise extreme caution, allow additional travel time and avoid unnecessary journeys.

Latest reports of roads affected:

Antrim Council area:

High ground in Antrim, Templepatrick and Parkgate area especially affected by snow. Roads Service are continuing to target these areas. Most of the main network is open apart from below::

   * Ballyhill Road, Islandreagh Road
   * C19 Crosskennan Road
   * Grange Road
   * Rickamore Road
   * C27 Lylehill Road passable with extreme care
   * A52 Belfast Road is closed between C27 Lylehill Road to the Flush Road

Most untreated roads in these areas remain closed until further notice

The Colin - Passable with extreme care. It is treated by Antrim but belongs to Newtownabbey

A52 Belfast Road / Legionel Road (Horse Shoe bend). It is treated by Antrim but belongs to Newtownabbey.

Ballymena & Larne Council area:

   * The B94 Rathkeel Road is closed between A36 Shaneshill Rd and A42 Broughshane Rd - RE-OPENED
   * The A36 Shane's Hill Road (between Ballymena and Larne) is closed from the A8 to the  B94 at The Battery Inn, RE-OPENED
   * B97 Munie Rd between Glenarm and Ballmena closed (Other routes between Glenarm and Ballymena are available)
   * Many roads are blocked by snow drifts in excess of 2 metres around the Larne and Glens of Antrim area including the Mullaghsandall & Carnalbanagh areas.

Ballymoney & Moyle Council area:

   * A2 Cushendall Road, the main road from Cushendall to Ballycastle - CLEARED
   * A43 Glenariff Road - REOPENED
   * B14 Ballyeamon Road snow clearing progressing well - hoped to be opened by 8.00am Monday morning
   * Ballyalbanagh Road is closed between C 38 Brae Park to the Ballyrashee Road
   * C37 Sawmill Road is closed between C38 Bra Park Road to Ballyrashee Road
   * Glenview Road is closed between C66 Carnalbanagh Road to the C70 Deerpark Road
   * B92 Cushleak Road is closed between A2 Loughreema Road to the village of Cushendun
   * C82 Torr Road is closed between Cushendun village to the village of Ballyvoy
   * Other areas affected with snow is Mullaghsandall & Carnalbanagh areas

Coleraine & Limavady Council areas

All  roads clear but snow drifting out in a few places on Glenshane, Legavallon and Belraugh Roads.

   * B40 Glenedra Road, Dungiven closed expected to reopen Monday evening;
   * C524 Birren Road, Dungiven closed due to reopen Monday evening;
   * U2208 Mullaghmesh Road closed expected to reopen Monday evening;
   * Glenedra Road, Birren Road and Mullaghmesh Road (working on these roads at present)

Derry Council area:

All roads open

Ards Council area:

   * Holywood Road, between Bradshaw's Brae and Craigantlet Crossroads is passable with care.

Armagh Council area:

   * Local roads in south of council area impassable due to snow.

Banbridge & Craigavon Council area:

   * Banbridge Council area: All scheduled gritting routes passable with care. Many minor roads still impassable especially in Dromara, Moneyslane, Katesbridge, Leitrim and Ballyward areas impassable due to snow. Moneyscalp Road passable with care
   * Craigavon Council area all clear

Down Council area:

   * B180 Bryansford Road, reopened on Sunday 24 March after closure due to excessive snow on road but care required.
   * On Sunday and Monday AM Roads Service worked to clear the following roads, U202 Trassey Road, Bryansford;  C373 Tullyaree Road, Kilcoo; and the C325 Moneyscalp Road, Kilcoo to assist NIE access to clear faults and assisting local resident.
   * Snow badly effecting rural roads to the west of the Council area. Most Rural roads in the Castlewellan/Kilcoo/Mournes area are impassable or only passable with extreme caution

Newry & Mourne Council area:

   * Salted network in good condtion with the exception of the B27 Moyad road.  RSD snowblowers and hired in plant working at reopenung the B27. Diversion via Bryansford-Newcastle-Kilkeel
   * A2 Shore Road Rostrevor remains  closed at Rostrevor due to risk of land slip. Diversion via Warrenpoint-Newry-Rathfriland-Kilcoo-Castlewellan-Newcastle-Kilkeel-Killowen
   * Local roads in Hilltown, Attical and Spelga areas impassable due to snow.
   * Trassey Road- Large portion of road open from B180 Hilltown Rd
   * Tullyaree Road OPEN
   * Mound Road, Warenpoint  Flooding
   * Snow clearnace operations continuing in Coyles Hill, Yellow road, Lower Knockbarragh Hilltown

Belfast Council area

   * In west Belfast, Upper Springfield Road and Hannahstown  - OPEN
   * In North Belfast no roads that we are aware of closed. Roads remain passable with care. Some roads have reduced width due to snow and parked vehicles. Ongoing operation to widen traffic width were possible. Traffic problems due to narrow lanes and parked vehicles. Working to improve access/ egress for residents across the worst affected estates.

Lisburn & Castlereagh Council area:

Snow /Ice affected roads which are closed:

   * Glenside Road
   * Ballycolin Road
   * Tornagrough Road - Tipper lorry and car blocking road
   * Upper Springfield Road
   * Divis Road
   * Many minor side roads

Snow /Ice affected roads which are restricted:

   * Quarterlands Road - passable with care
   * Leathenstown Road - passable with care
   * Hannahstown Road - passable with care
   * Rock Road - passable with care
   * Mullaglass Road - passable with care
   * Colinglen Road - passable with care
   * Stoneyford Road - passable with care
   * Sheepwalk Road - passable with care
   * Upper Braniel Road - passable with care

Newtownabbey & Carrickfergus Council area:

   * All roads on salted newtork are passable with care with the exception of New Line which should be reopened later this morning. There are many roads in rural areas which remain unpassable but we are working flat ot out to have them cleared. New Line , Carrickfergus was closed last night to facilitate snow clearance and should be reopened to traffic later this morning.
   * Very poor in the high areas eg Glengormley, Carnmoney, Mallusk  and rural areas. Many road remain impassable

North Down Council area:

   * Major Roads currently impassable - Church Road, Holywood; Whinney Hill, Holywood; Dunlady Road and  Ballymiscaw Rd, Holywood.
   * Minor roads closed Creighton Green Road, Holywood

Cookstown & Magherafelt Council area:

   * All gritted routes clear and open to traffic, good condition with traffic flowing freely.
   * Some minor roads on the highest ground in Cookstown and Magherafelt Council areas are difficult due to snow drifts. Most of these roads were cleared earlier but strong winds last night has resulted in further snow drifts. Clearing of snow drifts on secondary roads continuing.

Dungannon Council area:

All roads passable

Fermanagh Council area:

All roads clear

Omagh  Council areas:

External contractors resources has enabled good progress on reopening road closed by drifted snow.

The following routes are remaining for attention:

   * Glencullion Gortin now cleared
   * Glenmacoffer Gortin now clear
   * Innishclan Mountfield now clear
   * McCleans Carrickmore now clear
   * Camosy Gortin now clear
   * Davagh in the Sperrins is expected to be opened later today
   * Dorvil in the Sperrins is expected to be opened later today

Strabane Council area:

The salted network within Strabane Section has been treated on several occasions, more so on the higher ground routes. All roads on the salted network are clear of snow.

The remainder of the network is also well clear of snow except some roads to the higher ground in the Sperrins are passable with care due to some drifts of snow. Two minor roads leading off the B47 Glenelly Road, the U1976 Sperrin Park Road and the U1978 Cranagh to Park road are blocked due to considerable snow drifts throughout the past 3 days. In some occasions the there has been multiple snow clearance operations on the same road due to continual drifting

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