Northern Ireland news

Storm Francis: People rescued from homes as River Shimna in Newcastle bursts its banks

Storm Francis is battering Ireland this morning, causing flooding and felling trees.

People have had to be rescued from their homes in Newcastle, Co Down, after Shimna River burst its banks. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said the residents were rescued from Bryansford Avenye. It said its specialist rescue team, flood response Ttams and local crews were involved.  Shimna Road is also flooded.

NIFRS said it was also rescuing residents from a house in Maghera.

“We are reminding the public that in the event of serious flooding to phone the NI Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100.  If there is a risk to life dial 999 immediately and we will respond." 

NIFRS said it was working closely with the PSNI, Coastguard and other statutory agencies today.

The Department of Infrastructure said it had been distributing sandbags in Newcastle today.

Portaferry RNLI said it rescued two sailors whose 36ft yacht got into difficulty on Strangford Lough this morning.

The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 9.55am following a report from Belfast Coastguard that the yacht was dragging its anchor and drifting towards the shore.


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Also in Co Down, Movilla Road in Newtownards is passable with care.

 Storm Francis is making driving conditions treacherous. Picture by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker


Co Derry

In Co Derry the B47 Glenelly Road between Plumbridge and Draperstown has been closed.

Co Tyrone

Drum Road in Cookstown, is impassable due to flooding, close to the Teebane crossroads.

An electricity line came down on Brewery Lane in Donaghmore earlier today.

Greater Belfast area

In the greater Belfast area Ballyhanwood Road in Dundonald ws closed between Old Dundonald Road and Gilnahirk Road because of a fallen tree but has since reopened. "Substantial flooding" has also been reported on the Upper Malone Road close to Lady Dixon Park while a fallen tree that had been blocking the Belfast bound lanes on Old Golf Course Road between the junctions of Creightons Road and Blacks Road has been cleared.

Co Antrim

In Co Antrim a fallen tree is blocking the road in Straid while in Larne the C70 Drumcrow Road is closed between its junctions with Glenview Road and Deerpark Road

Translink has warned that "due to poor weather conditions and debris on the line" there may be delays to train services.

Waves crashing into the seafront at Tramore in Co Waterford. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

West Cork was particularly hard hit by Storm Francis with heavy rain causing widespread flooding during the night. Homes and businesses in Bantry have been damaged by flood water. 

In a statement, Cork County Council said: "Road users are asked to be aware of spot flooding, debris and fallen trees on many roads.

"Motorists are advised to drive with caution during heavy rain, not to drive through flood waters and be conscious of cyclists and pedestrians. Cork County Council asks all road users to be aware of the danger posed by high winds.

"Members of the public are advised to stay high, stay dry and stay away from the coast, rivers and lakes. With strong gusts and high waves predicted, people are urged to refrain from visiting coastal areas.

"Property owners, residents and visitors are advised to take necessary precautions for this dangerous weather event, to protect property, to avoid unnecessary journeys and stay indoors during the warning periods.

"Following recent weather events, trees have been weakened and remain susceptible to further damage. Landowners are asked to examine trees within their property for damage.

"Those camping or in caravans are asked to seek alternative accommodation indoors, as temporary structures are particularly at risk. Extra precaution should be taken to secure caravans, camping equipment and any other loose items."

Met Éireann says the strongest winds will be along the Munster and south Leinster coasts as the centre of Storm Francis moves eastwards across the island but gales will also affect northwestern coasts.  

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Advice from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service:

Do not travel in heavy rainstorms unless absolutely necessary.

In flooded areas, drivers should not:

  • enter flood water that is moving or is more than four inches deep
  • under any circumstances, drive through fast-flowing water as the car could be swept away

In more shallow but passable water:

  • slow down
  • avoid creating bow waves which can damage your car engine; and
  • remember to test the brakes after leaving the water

Do not attempt to walk through flooded areas.

Even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet and there may be hidden dangers such as:

  • open drains
  • damaged road surfaces
  • submerged debris; or
  • deep channels which can result in serious injury or, in the worst cases, death

If you do become stranded in flood water and you feel there is a risk to life, dial 999 for emergency assistance.

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