Northern Ireland news

Video: Tens of thousands of Irish homes and businesses without electricuty as Storm Eleanor sweeps through

Large tree blocking New Forge Lane in south Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann 
David Young, Press Association

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Ireland lost power overnight as Storm Eleanor swept in.

In Northern Ireland more than 20,000 customers, mainly across the border counties, were left without power at the height of the gales.

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks said it restored supply to 10,000 properties but another 12,000 would be without power overnight.

By 8am there were still 3000 customers without power. 

A spokesman said: "It's very difficult to make repairs because we have to think about the safety of our employees, most repairs will start at first light."

The Met Office said wind speeds reached 90mph at Orlock Head in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening. Gusts of 100mph were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria at 1am. 

A number of roads were closed due to fallen trees and motorists were warned to avoid all but essential travel.

A yellow warning of wind remains active for all of England and Wales, most of Northern Ireland and the Scottish Borders until 6pm on Wednesday after an amber warning was put in place for the early hours.

In the Republic at least 55,000 properties experienced blackouts as the winter storm battered the network.

Winds of up to 100mph wreaked significant damage and caused flooding on the Atlantic coast.

Parts of Galway city were submerged in the rising waters.

Flooding also hit Salthill, Oranmore and Clarinbridge as high tides combined with gale-force winds.

Some cars were abandoned in Oranmore as roads were blocked while others in a car park in Salthill were partially submerged.

ESB Networks said counties worst affected in the Republic included Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.

Across the island, fallen trees forced road closures.

North of the border, there were 400 separate incidents of damage to the electricity network.

Engineers worked through the night to restore power to thousands of customers.

Julia Carson, from Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), said: "The damage caused by Storm Eleanor includes power lines brought down by falling trees and poles broken by the high winds.

"We have been working in difficult conditions since yesterday evening to restore power to over 20,000 customers and we'll continue to respond to reports of damage and reconnect supplies as quickly and safely as possible."

In Galway, streets around the docks were flooded after high tides breached defences and inundated the areas around the Spanish Arch, Claddagh, Dominick Street and Quay Street.

Water was more than 1ft deep in places.

The Coast Road from the city to Oranmore was also impassable at rush hour on Tuesday as high tide combined with the strong winds to cause local flooding.

In Gort, Co Galway, households were warned about potential disruption to water supplies after power cuts hit the local pumping station.

There were also reports of spot flooding on the N85 Ennis to Ennistymon road in Co Clare.

In the Republic, a Met Eireann orange wind warning remained in place for Wednesday morning for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

The forecaster said: "Westerly gale to storm winds together with high tides and exceptionally high seas will result in coastal damage and flooding. Damaging gusts likely inland also."

An ESB statement said: The number of customers out now stands at 27,000, with 10,000 of those customers in Mayo, the worst impacted county.

"ESB Networks teams have now restored power to 123,000 customers, and are working in difficult conditions to get the remaining customers still without power back by tonight.

"ESB Networks crews in less impacted areas are on the move this morning to the worst impacted counties."

In England nearly 2,000 homes were hit by power cuts in the Midlands, as well as around 700 in the South West and 460 in Wales.

The Environment Agency issued 65 flood warnings and dozens of alerts across the country.

The Dartford Crossing bridge was closed overnight on Tuesday due to the dangerous wind speeds and is due to reopen in time for morning rush hour.

Vince Crane, of the AA, advised drivers to take extra care in the worsening conditions.

He said: "Road conditions can quickly deteriorate during very heavy rainfall, with drains becoming swamped or blocked and standing water causing surface spray, reduced visibility and potentially leading to flooding.

"Drivers will need to take extra care and expect delays, even on motorways.

"Strong or sudden gusts of wind are more likely on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges, or when overtaking high-sided vehicles."

There will be a risk of "injuries and danger to life" from flying debris and large waves along the western coast, the Met Office said.

Meteorologist Emma Sharples said: "There is likely to be some disruption possibly to public transport, bridges and other public services such as mobile phones and people need to be aware that there could be debris as well."

In Wales, people have been advised to keep a safe distance from the sea as Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issued a series of flood warnings for the south-east, south-west and north coasts.

Ceri Jones, from NRW, said: "Large waves could overtop defences and throw up debris - this could easily cause injury or knock you off your feet."

Pembrokeshire County Council also issued a warning for several areas, including Amroth and Newgale, where overtopping waves could cause disruption.

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