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Saturday 17 February 2018

Families escape after storm damage

Two families have escaped serious injury after strong winds broke an electricity pole and set a home in Co Down on fire.

High-voltage wires landed on the roof in St Annes Terrace, Mayobridge, badly damaging the upper part of one property.

The occupants of two houses affected were taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry for treatment, but no one was believed to be seriously injured.

A Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) spokeswoman said: "At 10.10pm on 26th December, severe storm force winds in the Mayobridge area caused damage to an electricity pole, breaking the pole and bringing down high voltage electricity lines across the roof of a house in the village. Subsequently a fire broke out on the roof of the house."

Emergency crews made the line safe, allowing the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) to work safely. The spokeswoman added: "NIE is assessing the damage to the electricity network, but has been able to restore power to all customers affected by this fault.

"Repairs to replace the broken pole will commence once the high winds have abated and a detailed assessment has been completed so that the work can be carried out safely."

NIE warned some isolated users in the region may remain without electricity supplies overnight while repairs are carried out.

The company has restored power to over 30,000 customers following the severe storm-force winds, accompanied by heavy rain which caused damage to the network

At one stage the ESB in the Republic said it had reconnected more than 60,000 customers of an original 70,000 who had lost power across Ireland due to the storms.

It said more would regain power throughout the evening, but around 4,900 customers should expect to be off overnight.

"We hope to restore supply to all customers today, however some damage may require more extensive construction work to be carried out and we are assessing the situation and will give further updates later," it said in a statement.

"We will also be redeploying crews from areas less affected to help those locations experiencing more extensive damage."

The company said the electricity network in the south west had suffered the most damage, while considerable damage was done along the west coast and some faults inland were also reported.

At one stage more than 5,000 customers were without supply in Kerry, around 3,500 in Clare and 1,000 in West Cork, Drimoleague and Dunmanway.

The north, north west and north east were among the least affected, while 1,800 were without power in the Kinnegad, Clonard and Rhode area, 1,500 in the Monasterevin area and 300 in Shannonbridge.

Some 700 customers lost power in the Dublin area.

More than 7,500 Eircom customers were without telephone and broadband service as a result of strong winds, heavy rainfall and lightning overnight.

Cork, Galway, Mayo, Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford were among the areas where services were worst hit.

"Working conditions in many areas of the country remain extremely difficult as a result of the dangerously high winds and lightning," Eircom said.

"These conditions are hampering our repair efforts in some areas of the country."

It said 700 crews were working to restore services to those affected.

Around 2,250 customers had services restored between Christmas Eve and St Stephen's Day.

Met Eireann raised a red alert yesterday - the most serious of its weather warnings.

Gale force winds reached 140kph in some areas, with further gusts of 150kph ravaging coastal areas.

It has since downgraded its alert but is still warning of strong winds across the country - particularly in Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Leitrim and Sligo.

The national forecaster also warned there is a danger of coastal flooding in the north west.

NIE spokeswoman Julia Carson said: "Hundreds of NIE engineers, linespeople, call handlers and administrative staff are reinforcing our normal capability to restore supplies following severe weather damage, and to provide regularly updated information to customers.

"Our incident management centre at Craigavon and local incident centres across Northern Ireland are open, co-ordinating the repair process in the local areas and they will remain open until power is restored to all customers."

Press Association

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