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Winds batter country... but surf's up for some

THE country was battered and bruised by Storm Christine but some hardy souls attempted to make the most of the weather.

Although it wreaked havoc across the country, the storm also helped put Ireland on the international big surf map.

WAVES

Hundreds of surfers from across Europe took to the waters off Donegal and Sligo to enjoy waves of up to 40ft.

But Ireland's oldest big wave surfer came a cropper – when his surf board snapped in two.

Henry Moore is chairman of the Irish Surfing Association, but at 50 still likes to ride the big ones. The Sligo man said: "I had a few rumbles all right," said Henry.

Meanwhile, homeowners were counting the cost of the damage as many have no insurance cover for repairs.

With flood damage costs expected to top €200m, many homes and businesses will be forced to pay for repairs where flood insurance is not provided. Some of the worst flooding was in Co Clare. Four families living at the tip of Loop Head were left stranded after part of the road was washed away.

In Lahinch, sections of the promenade wall were smashed into hundreds of pieces which were sent flying across the flooded carpark.

ESB crews battled the strong winds to restore power to 4,000 homes while Dublin homes also experienced power outages throughout the afternoon.

However, Met Eireann forecaster John Eagleton said that "we should be out of the woods" by this afternoon.

Islands off the coast also took a fresh battering yesterday. On Inishbofin locals were attempting to secure an emergency beacon after the 12ft lighthouse was knocked to its foundations.

The island suffered extensive damage with cars swept away from the pier and roads torn up.

The Aran Islands also suffered extensive damage to its coastal roads.

DEMOLISHED

In Kerry, massive waves demolished headstones and disturbed graves in an old cemetery. Graveyards were also damaged in Galway.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) pleaded with motorists to drive with care and to allow extra time for journeys.

Junior Minister Brian Hayes, who oversees the Office of Public Works, said he will fast-track applicationsfor restoration works and flood defences. He said a fund of €45m is already available.

hnews@herald.ie


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