Belfast Telegraph

Storm Frank: Sea walls are breached and rivers burst their banks as wild weather wreaks havoc

By Allan Preston

As the tail end of Storm Frank battered Northern Ireland, there were warnings that another batch of nasty weather could hit the province on New Year's Day in the form of Storm Gertrude.

However forecasters have said that Gertrude is nowhere near the same magnitude as Frank, which devastated Northern Ireland's power grid and caused roads chaos.

A spokesperson for the Meteogroup UK said last night: "Gertrude is not a storm yet - but it is a low pressure reasonably close to the UK and Ireland bringing in chillier weather."

He said he expected temperatures to drop to -1C in parts of Northern Ireland overnight. Today is expected to be much drier.

Emergency workers across Northern Ireland battled through the night on Tuesday to restore power and clear roads.

Up to 21,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity and more than 270 roads were cut off by flood water and fallen trees.

The heaviest downpours were at Katesbridge in south Down, where half a month's rain fell in three hours. Severe gale force winds meant planes had to be diverted from both airports in Belfast, with some passengers waiting almost two hours for a chance to disembark safely.

Fire Service flood rescue teams came to the aid of 18 drivers who became stranded after driving into flood water. They received 35 calls for help in total.

Group Commander Eddie Carroll said: "We were well prepared for Storm Frank and I would like to pay tribute to the crews who worked hard throughout the night to protect life and property.

He added: "We'd like to remind motorists that they should not attempt to drive through flooded roads or fords. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast. Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded."

There was also further disruption to travel last night on the Belfast to Dublin rail line. The cross-border service had to start at Newry with passengers being bussed to and from Belfast.

Most of the 270 roads cut off across Northern Ireland have also been reopened, though some remain impassable.

Staff from NIE worked through the night in dangerous conditions after falling trees and debris knocked out overhead electricity lines and poles.

Enniskillen and Coleraine were the worst affected areas - both had nearly 4,000 homes without electricity at one point on Tuesday. The majority of affected properties have now had their power restored.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill praised the efforts of emergency workers. She said that 4,200 sand bags had been issued and water pumping was ongoing in some of the worst affected areas, such as the Derrychara link in Enniskillen and Greenbank in Newry. With further heavy rain expected in the coming days, and with already waterlogged areas given little time to recover, she urged farmers to take extra care with their livestock and move them to higher ground.

Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary near Antrim was badly affected by flooding, and appealed for help online.

"Our yard is currently completely flooded and unfortunately our main storage area has been hit worst. Despite our efforts to divert the worst of the flood water, we were fighting a lost battle. We just have to hope the storm eases soon and doesn't cause too much damage," the sanctuary said.

A flooding incident line is being monitored 24 hours a day and can be reached on 0300 2000 100.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph