Joan Burton falls out of boat on tour of Storm Frank damage

Labour leader Joan Burton goes into a canoe to see the damage caused by flooding in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
John Monaghan

TANAISTE Joan Burton has fallen out of a canoe while being shown flooding in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.

She was accompanied by Carlow/Kilkenny TD Ann Phelan and the pair ended up in the water but clambered back into the boat and continued on their tour with Ms Burton saying she was "grand" 

The pair were being shown damage caused by Storm Frank

Efforts to clear up damage caused by the storm have continued, with roads gradually re-opening and electricity restored to homes.

At its height on Tuesday, heavy rainfall and winds of up to 80 miles per hour led to more than 270 roads being blocked, while 21,000 homes in the north were left without electricity.

Hundreds of employees from a variety of agencies worked throughout the early hours of Thursday to clear roads and restore power.

The rail service between Belfast and Dublin was also disrupted due to flooding between Newry and Portadown.

Eighteen people had to be rescued from vehicles by the Fire Service, which said it attended 35 calls, the majority in counties Down and Armagh.

Transport NI dealt with 150 incidents, mostly involving fallen trees.

Some roads remained impassable yesterday, with Lisburn and areas of south Down, including Castlewellan and Warrenpoint, particularly affected.

The A1 southbound between Dromore and Banbridge was shut for a period.

In Co Fermanagh, several roads were closed in Lisnaskea.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said about 4,200 sandbags had been distributed and flood response staff had dealt with 80 calls for assistance.

An emergency payment has been made available to homeowners badly affected by flooding.

Sara McClintock, of NIE Networks, said: "Trying to climb poles and replace poles in very heavy rain and strong winds is not easy. Obviously if somebody sees a broken pole or a broken line, we would tell them not to approach it, but to call us immediately."

Flights and ferry services returned to normal yesterday after disruption caused by the storm.

In the Republic, about 3,000 homes and businesses remained without power last night.

Amid warnings from forecasters that stricken communities could see more damage from swollen rivers over the next three weeks, energy chiefs also warned they will not turn electricity back on in flooded homes.

Telecoms company eir reported 10,000 faults on its network with the number expected to rise, with 43,000 repairs carried out since the beginning of December.

The worst affected area stretched from Bandon in Cork up to Enniscorthy in Wexford and on to Arklow in Wicklow.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said 430 million euro would be set aside for flood relief after meeting farmers in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Mr Kenny had been facing increasing criticism over his absence in recent days from many areas affected by floods.

#WhereIsEnda trended on Twitter on Wednesday, although Minister of State Simon Harris had earlier defended Mr Kenny.

"(He) isn’t just putting on the wellies and doing the Bertie Ahern standing in a puddle of water saying 'look at me taking action' ", referring to a photograph of the former Taoiseach standing in the middle of floods in Drumcondra.

Tanaiste Joan Burton, meanwhile, and Carlow/Kilkenny TD Ann Phelan both fell out of a canoe which was transporting them around Thomastown in Co Kilkenny.

As storms and floods continue to batter communities across northern parts of Britain, the Met Office also revealed that it had the warmest December on record.

December temperatures for the whole of the UK reached a spring-like 8C, which is 4.1C above the long-term average.

The previous record was 6.9C, set in 1934.

The Met Office said: "This means the temperatures this December 2015 were closer to those normally experienced during April or May."

Climate scientist Professor Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, said: "There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is partly responsible for the flooding across the north of England. These floods are in part due to greenhouse gas emissions."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access