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Author: News Letter
Published on 05 January 2012 09:00 AM

After Tuesday’s storms – which saw thousands of homes left without power and dozens of roads blocked by fallen trees – the province was last night bracing itself for the threat of flooding.

Yesterday, NIE revealed that 35,000 people in Northern Ireland suffered power cuts, after winds reached a staggering 105mph in Donegal.

Figures released by the energy company, revealed that the Coleraine district was worst hit, with over 7,200 homes suffering a black-out. Campsie, Bangor and Ballymena were also severely disrupted by power cuts, however the Belfast district escaped relatively unscathed with just 150 homes affected.

Roy Coulter, NIE’s duty incident manager, said he expected all homes to have their electric supplies restored yesterday after engineers worked through the night.

“We worked closely with the Met Office to prepare for this event which saw gusts of over 80 miles per hour,” he said.

“We had teams in place early on Tuesday morning and so were able to respond quickly when the storm, hit.

“Over 600 individual faults had to be repaired and extensive tree cutting, pole replacement and line restringing had to be carried out. In many cases this work was done during the hours of darkness,” he added.

In Enniskillen, an Asda store was closed after the wind ripped off part of the roof, while a small plane was blown onto its roof at the local airfield.

The roof of a primary school in Cushendun along the north coast of Antrim was also damaged in the gales.

As the clean-up operation continued yesterday, the Met Office issued a yellow warning for the province with the onset of constant heavy rain backed by strong gusty winds, which were last night set to gather speed once again.

Daniel Adamson, a PA weather forecaster, told the News Letter that the worst of the weather should be over by the middle of today.

“We could be looking at around 25 millimetres of rain, and many parts in the west could see even more rain than that,” he said.

“This is a very large amount of rain to fall within 24 hours and with the ground already saturated, there is certainly the risk that some areas could see some flooding.

“The wind speeds are also expected to pick up again overnight, with steady wind speeds of up to 60mph and some gusts in excess of that.

“But by midday, the wind should ease and the outlook over the next few days is a bit more settled.”

Two men were killed as winds of more than 100mph battered the rest of the UK on Tuesday.

A man, in his 50s, was crushed by an oak tree as he sat in a parked van in Kent.

The second victim, a member of crew on board a tanker, was killed after the vessel was hit by a large wave off the coast of the south Devon/Cornwall border.

Yesterday, the Environment Agency issued 20 flood warnings across the country yesterday, including 13 in the South West, three each in the Midlands and the North East, and one in Wales.

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For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575