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Storm leaves trail of destruction

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Pedestrians struggle through Dublin city centre. Photo: Collins

Pedestrians struggle through Dublin city centre. Photo: Collins

Pedestrians struggle through Dublin city centre. Photo: Collins

THE country is bracing itself for another Atlantic gale in the wake of Storm Darwin, whose 177kph hurricane force winds left a nationwide trail of destruction.

More storms combined with driving rain and biting cold are set to sweep the country tomorrow and over the weekend.

As a major clean-up got underway today, the country is now preparing for yet another storm in the chain of Atlantic systems that have battered us for weeks.

Power

Emergencies were declared in several counties as violent winds brought down power lines leaving 260,000 houses in darkness, ripped the roofs off homes, forced temporary closures of Shannon and Cork Airports, overturned trucks and closed the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway.

They also left the rail network paralysed and saw over a dozen cars crushed by fallen trees.

One motorist in Coolock was just one of those who had a lucky escape when a tree toppled and crushed his van late last night - the driver had just minor injuries.

ESB Networks has said it has a "mammoth task" ahead of it today as it tries to repair power lines torn down by the hurricane force winds and falling trees all over the country yesterday.

At one stage more than 250,000 customers had no power but crews are hoping to re-connect many today.

"Our crews have to cut our way in to some customers and that is going to take time," arned ESB managing director Jerry O'Sullivan.

Up to 2,000 network technicians and 300 damage assessors were working since first light today on the repairs.

There was no train service between Mallow and Tralee or Limerick and Athenry early today, with bus transfers in place instead.

And while all major roads were open, there was a lot of delays on smaller roads anticipated due to fallen trees and debris.

This morning AIB was forced to shut 14 branches in the aftermath of the bad weather.

Damaging

While there is a lull in winds today it is only the calm before the next storm hits tomorrow afternoon.

"Tomorrow's storm will come from the south and will be a different shape," said David Rogers of Met Eireann.

"It won't have the tight contours and rapidly changing pressure of yesterday's storm. It will be a bit flabbier, and while it will be gusty it won't be as damaging as yesterday," he added.

And Met Eireann said it was the worst storm in 15 years.

Last night, several residents at Waterway apartments in Ashtown, Dublin were evacuated from their homes after the roof was "practically ripped off". Nobody was injured.

In Laois, three generations of a family escaped after a massive tree fell on their car. Colette Brennan, her mother, and her three children – the youngest of which is 14-weeks-old – were recovering last night.

The tree stunned onlookers when it toppled onto their car in Portlaoise, at the junction of the Stradbally and Block Road.

Colette's husband Oliver said his wife and family were still in shock last night. "I'd say there could be 40 tonnes in that tree," Mr Brennan said.

With up to 2,100 separate faults to repair, the ESB warned the sheer scale of the damage to its network means as many as 200,000 homes will be without power until at least later today.

In Roscommon, a mini-tornado linked to the Atlantic super-storm struck, with one car being crushed by a fallen tree. In Limerick, Sarsfield Street had to be closed as part of a building collapsed.

In Co Clare, a parked aircraft was flipped on to its wingtip by the violent gusts.

Hospitals in Limerick and Cork were dealing with at least 30 cases of weather-related injuries though none are life-threatening.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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