Flooding, damage widespread in wake of Atlantic storm


HIGH WINDS and heavy rains - have left flooding and storm damage in many areas after an Atlantic storm swept across the country throughout yesterday and last night.

In the only known fatalities of the severe weather, two people died in a car accident in Carlow early yesterday, apparently after the driver lost control of the car in high winds.

In Waterford, work at the Bell Lines shipping terminal had to be suspended during the afternoon when storms toppled a 750 tonne crane used for loading ships. It collided with a second crane, badly damaging both, but neither was in operation at the time and there were no injuries.

The worst of the wind and rain is expected to have passed by daybreak today, when the area of low pressure should have cleared the country eastwards. The centre of the storm moved through south Leinster into the Irish sea throughout the day yesterday, but a broad spiral of strong winds moving anti clockwise around it made itself felt in most areas.

Storm force winds of up to 80 m.p.h. gusted through the south west all day, bringing down trees and causing a major flooding problem.

In Blarney, Co Cork, the fire brigade had to extract a young couple from a car which was hit by a falling tree, while on Patrick's Hill, Cork, another car was badly damaged when an old tree toppled over.

In the Blackrock area of the city, a car belonging to a Dutch couple was wrecked by a fallen tree, and on the city outskirts repair work had to be done on a fallen ESB line carrying an estimated 110,000 volts.

The entire south western trawler fleet took shelter in Cork harbour and gardai issued a warning to motorists not to venture out unless the trip was absolutely necessary. Cork ferry services were hit and many detours had to be organised in and around Cork city because of fallen trees.

In Co Galway, heavy seas whipped up by high winds heaped seaweed and rocks onto the road near Spiddal and traffic was delayed for a time as county council workers cleared obstructions. Gardai reported a number of fallen trees on the outskirts of Galway city but said no one was injured.

Met Eireann said the single highest wind recorded during the day was at Belmullet, Co Mayo, but a spokesman said winds of equal ferocity were likely in many areas across the south, west and north west. Gardai in Belmullet reported telegraph poles broken and bent by the wind near Glencastle.

In Kerry, there was widespread flooding and tree damage around Killarney, and a section of the road between Killarney and Macroom was reported to have caved in under the storm.

However, the secretary of the Valentia lifeboat, Mr Paddy Gallagher, said there were no plans to postpone the arrival of Ireland's newest and biggest lifeboat, which is due to leave England today for Castletownbere and Valentia. The boat has already been involved in a rescue operation off the English south coast.

The Marine Rescue Service said it has had to deal with large numbers of boats torn loose from their moorings around the coast, but added there had been no cases in which lives were in danger.

Ferry sailings should return to normal today after two days of disruption. Irish Ferries cancelled last night's Rosslare to Pembroke service, but said it hoped the Le Havre sailing - delayed since Sunday night - would go ahead.

Stena cancelled its evening sailings from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare and said today's early morning sailings were also in doubt.

In Britain, the onset of winter weather has claimed the lives of at least four people: a man and woman in west Yorkshire and two anglers in separate tragedies in south Wales.

In the first incident, in Yorkshire, a three year old boy escaped serious injury but was orphaned when a tree snapped in heavy winds and fell on his parents' car, killing them.

In south Wales, coastguards recovered the body of an angler swept from a pier at Swansea's West Dock by a huge wave. Coastguard teams on shore found the body four hours later in surf about 200 metres from the pier, after a search dogged by high winds and 40 ft waves.

The fishing tragedy was the second along the south Wales coast during a weekend of gales. A 24 year old man was swept away and drowned on Saturday while fishing with friends on rocks at Ogmore by Sea, near Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan.