Thursday 24 May 2018

Storm Brian: Houses 'destroyed', thousands without power and popular tourist spots forced to close

  • South of country experienced gusts of up to 130km/h this morning
  • Parts of Limerick flooded
  • ESB say AROUND 19,500 homes without power
  • Fota Wildlife Park and Cliffs of Moher closed to tourists
  • Delays on a number of rail routes, other trains cancelled
  • Three weather warnings in place until Saturday night
  • Motorists urged to take extreme care as flash floods reported nationwide
  • People urged to stay away from the coast
Pat Lysaght’s home on the Mill Rd, Corbally, Limerick after the river Shannon burst its banks this morning (Picture Press 22)
Pat Lysaght’s home on the Mill Rd, Corbally, Limerick after the river Shannon burst its banks this morning (Picture Press 22)
Getting ready for storm Brian. Pictured at Tramore Co. Waterford where Waterford Council prepare for the storm. Patrick Browne
Emma Cora Duggan, from Limerick, told Independent.ie of the horror she experienced when she realised that her entire street had been flooded this morning

Hayley Halpin, David Raleigh and Amy Molloy

More than 19,500 homes are currently without power as Storm Brian batters Ireland.

An orange and yellow weather warning is currently in place as the second storm to hit Ireland in just a week causes more devastation across the country.

The storm is hampering efforts by ESB staff to restore power after Ex-Hurricane Ophelia left thousands without electricity and water.

An ESB spokeswoman said: "A Met Eireann Status Orange wind warning has been issued for seven coastal counties, including Cork and Wexford, will hamper restoration efforts.

"Should the weather conditions worsen further, our crews will be stood down until it is safe to resume repairs again.

"Any new service interruptions should be reported on esbnetworks.ie or 1850 372 999.

"If you come across fallen wires or damaged electricity network, never, ever touch or approach these as they are LIVE and extremely dangerous."

Earlier today, 22,000 homes had been without power but restorations have reduced the number of people affected.

Meanwhile, popular tourist spots such as Fota Wildlife Park in Cork and the Cliffs of Moher have been forced to close due to the extreme weather.

A Fota Wildlife spokesperson said they will reopen on Sunday morning at 10am.

In Limerick, people are battling to prevent any further damage to their homes.

Tom Bolger could only look on as the River Shannon swept into his home, at Mill Road, Corbally.

The fierce wind had carried an early morning tide into the home.

“We got three inches of water in right across the house. Unfortunately it was the tide and the wind together that did it,” Tom said.

“After it went out we started to mop up.”

He added: “We’ve been flooded around five times since the 1970s. The worst was the storm in 2014 - there was 20 inches of water that time in the house.”

Gratefully receiving the delivery of a dehumidifier from his local Council, he said: “We've modified the house as best we can…we've raised the bedroom floors and the (kitchen) drawers clip out so we can lift them up; we've no carpets, just tiles and floorboards.”

Stacking up family photographs and furniture off the ground, Tom had an anxious wait with a second high tide due Saturday night.

“We will disinfect the floors and wait until tonight.”

The wind also carried the river swell over flood defences in Limerick city at Clancy’s Strand making routes impassable for a few hours.

Across the river, the city centre survived the deluge as the Council’s flood barriers and rows of sandbags held back the tide.

Tom Bolger’s neighbour and brother-in-law, Pat Lysaght, (74), watched the river rise serval feet, edging towards his back door.

Eventually, the water surrounded the house, coming to a stop, lapping at his back door.

“For us, this was worse than Ophelia. The tide that day was 6.7 metres. This morning it rose to 7.2 metres,” he said.

“At ten past 8 this morning it just kept coming towards the house and it didn't start turning back out again until 9am.”

“It came lapping at the door. I had a sigh of relief that it didn't come into the house.”

People in the south-east of the country have also been hit with the worst of Storm Brian.

A woman described how she got an "an awful fright" when she opened her blinds this morning to see "a river" at her front door after Storm Brian hit the south-east of the country.

The country continues to be battered with high winds and heavy rain, less than a week after ex-Hurricane Ophelia devastated parts of Ireland.

A status orange wind warning is now live for the coasts of Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford and will remain in place until 10pm tonight.

Met Éireann has warned that it will be extremely windy in the south and west with storm conditions around the coasts.

Limerick City experienced a bout of flash flooding along the quays and a number of housing estates this morning.

Emma Cora Duggan, from Limerick, told Independent.ie of the horror she experienced when she realised that her entire street, located just across from the River Shannon, had been flooded this morning.

"We opened the blinds this morning and we got an awful fright. It was really scary to see a river at my front door. I was panicking," Emma said.

Emma said that she wasn’t affected by ex-Hurricane Ophelia, so didn't worry about this weekend's forecast of Storm Brian.

"I thought I would have been ok after Ophelia. I didn’t expect to look out my window and see floods in my garden," she said

Emma said she feared this morning that she wouldn’t be able to leave the house to get help from her family.

"I’m going to have to make preparations for the rest of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry," she said.

"I can get out my gate now so I’m going to go up to my mother's and get some preparations done in case it gets worse."

The Limerick woman said she was lucky her house remained undamaged.

"It could have been sickening all together. I would just be devastated, it would just ruin my house.

"I wouldn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t have the first clue.

"It’s awful to see it happen and it’s awful to see how it affects other people, especially the elderly, it’s just awful.

"It’s still very breezy with very high winds but it doesn’t seem to be raining. I just hope that the tide doesn’t get high again later on."

Storm Brian swept over the country this morning, with Met Éireann warning people to expect heavy downpours and strong winds for the rest of the day.

Southeast winds of up to 65km/h and gusts of up to 110km/h are expected throughout the day, while up to 55mm of rain is expected over a 24 hour period.

"It's really up along the west coast this afternoon, gale force winds are now pushing in along the west coast," Met Éireann forecaster Gerry Murphy told RTE Radio One.

"There are significant gusts expected of up to 110 and 130k/hr," Mr Murphy said.

"Storm Ophelia was a much stronger storm.

"The highest gust we recorded from Ophelia was 156k/hr, while the highest gust we've had so far from Storm Brian is just shy of 115k/hr.

"The winds are significantly less, but if you're on the west coast these would feel strong.

"There are reports of flooding in Limerick, Cork and Waterford already, but that flooding is fairly localised.

"Storm Brian is hampering work that would have been ongoing to restore power.

"Those winds will affect all parts of the country as they move north.

"We do expect rain in the next few days but wind won't be as strong."

Transport

The storm is causing disruption to ferry crossings and rail services due to the expected strong gales.

There will be no services on Limerick Junction to Waterford, Limerick to Ballybrophy via Nenagh today.

Meanwhile a number of services will be running late by between 15 and 30 minutes due to safety concerns.

Shannon Airport has also advised passengers to contact their airline before travelling to the airport.

"Shannon Airport is fully operational and we are continually monitoring weather conditions," they said in a  statemment.

"As a status orange wind warning is in place, we are advising passengers intending to fly from Shannon Airport to contact their airline before travelling to the airport. This is a precautionary measure and is in effect until the storm is expected to abate on Saturday evening.”

Brittany Ferries sailings from Roscoff /Cork today have also been cancelled. Friday's ferries did not sail.

Brittany Ferries is currently contacting all passengers scheduled to travel to offer assistance.

Dublin Airport however has said it does not expect any significant impact from Storm Brian but has advised people to check with their airline.

A series of warnings are in place for motorists today who are being urged to take care due to flooding in parts and also because of the risk of falling trees and other debris.

These fears are heightened due to the fact that roadside trees and hedges, roof tiles or slates may have been weakened or dislodged as a result of Storm Ophelia.

The Road Safety Authority has urged drivers to take heed of their advice on driving in windy conditions, while gardaí and the AA are monitoring road conditions nationwide.

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