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Wexford tornado victims seek support ahead of Christmas

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David Byrne's house in Garryrichard, Co Wexford, which was damaged by a freak tornado. Photo: Mary Browne

David Byrne's house in Garryrichard, Co Wexford, which was damaged by a freak tornado. Photo: Mary Browne

03/11/2022. Storm damage, Tornado like event hit John Staffords house at Balliniry, Ramsgrange. John next to a damaged tractor. Photograph: Patrick Browne

03/11/2022. Storm damage, Tornado like event hit John Staffords house at Balliniry, Ramsgrange. John next to a damaged tractor. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Slates missing from the roof of a house at Longraigue, Foulksmills.

Slates missing from the roof of a house at Longraigue, Foulksmills.

Some of the devastation wrought by the mini tornado at Longraigue, Foulksmills.

Some of the devastation wrought by the mini tornado at Longraigue, Foulksmills.

Flattened sheds in Longraigue, Foulksmills.

Flattened sheds in Longraigue, Foulksmills.

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David Byrne's house in Garryrichard, Co Wexford, which was damaged by a freak tornado. Photo: Mary Browne

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The life changing effects of the mini tornado which swept through south Wexford – causing millions of euros in damage – have been laid bare to Wexford’s TDS and councillors in a series of heartbreaking letters.

The owner of Longraigue House wrote that the repair bill is going to run well over €500,000. “Whilst we are well insured this is not going to cover the total bill.”

Over 100 trees were ripped up in the storm. This includes 200-year-old beech trees and 600-year-old yew trees. “Laneways and access round the farm are still blocked and will be for some time until they can be cleared.”

All sheds were destroyed. All the galvanised sheds in the back yard were destroyed. They will require clearing and complete replacement. This is approximately 500sq m of cover.

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On the house one side of the slate roof was completely ripped off and requires complete replacement. Outside of that there were approximately ten large holes in the roofs and over 100 small ones. In many of these cases the felt has been punctured as well as the roof.

Five windows were also destroyed, along with two sets of solar panel (52 panels) completely destroyed.

The damage to Brendan Kehoe’s diary area is also immense: 

7-year-old 120 cow dairy unit completely destroyed, milking parlour roof off/electrics inoperable, large double span bale shed/cattle unit completely destroyed.

One couple wrote of the torment and restlessness they are suffering following the devastation at their home and farm. They recall their children preparing for a sleepover upstairs in the house when the tornado hit. The father said he raced to the dwelling house as soon as weather conditions permitted in a state of shock and horror ‘as I observed it and all around it’.

“The house was badly damaged. Since that day neither my wife, young family or myself can sleep peacefully or at all. Weather conditions have not helped. Our health and wellbeing is being weakened daily. We need financial support and we need it immediately. We need peace as we approach the Christmas season.”

David Byrne wrote of the effect losing the dream house he was preparing to move into in Garryrichard had on him: “I have worked and paid taxes from the age of 16 to the state. I have worked hard all of my life.”

He speaks of emigrating to New Zealand, returning in 2010 to work as a long distance livestock truck driver, trying to save and earn as much as he could since 2013 to build a house. 

“I put all my life savings into it and got fined on occasion for working too hard. So much heart, sweat and blood and hard long hours of work went into this house over the years and finally to be 100pc weather proof last year and looking forward to the last hurdle and moving in next year; all of this to be wiped away in 90 seconds. My whole life’s earnings. I am told to write this letter about how I feel!!”

“I’m 40 years old now. This all has had a devastating effect to see my house in ruins. I can’t sleep right. I can’t eat right, but more to my disappointment was how we were all abandoned by the response and (re)action of the Government. So many homes and farms wiped out. I am at the loss of a good €200,000 and with today’s prices I dread to know the cost now. People think of charity or GoFundMe, I am not a man of charity and I think the people are under enough strain and pressure wit increasing prices. The Government needs to wake up and should have stepped in the day this happened. You are paid to serve and protect the people and not ignore them. “

Another family wrote of the difficulty in finding a roofer and of their fears coming into the winter months.

“It’s Ok for yourselves not having to come home to a house with no roof on it up till Christmas, I don’t think we can take much more physically or mentally until we can get some reassurance from Government that will assist us to leave some normal life again in an airtight house.”

One man wrote: “I ran to my house only to fall to my knees at the sight of my house in pure devastation. At least 60pc of my roof was on the ground; a gaping hole in the wall in the gable end. When I went to the back and I took a weakness when I seen our barn completely swept of all galvanized sheets and steel bars twisted. My garden shed was in the field next door in several pieces. Then seeing my two brother-in-laws house and having to inform them of the situation. The phone call was as bad as giving a death notice. Since this terrible day and only for family members we have barely been able to cope.

Even though our roof is covered it is not able to take the constant rain we have endured since this event.” They are among numerous local families left devastated by the tornado.


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