Trees felled, car blown over and power lost during storm

A fallen tree on the Gilford Road close to Portadown Golf Club.
A fallen tree on the Gilford Road close to Portadown Golf Club.

Over 1,700 homes across Craigavon were without power last Friday following the Boxing night storm that battered Northern Ireland.

High winds of up to 75mph also blew down trees across the borough, causing some travel disruption for motorists.

There were near escapes for residents and shoppers. The wind was strong enough to blow the sign off the front of Joe Weir Autoparts in Edenderry but no-one 
was injured.

Neil Hassard, a Hamiltonsbawn man, described how his Nissan Micra had been blown over by the sheer force of the wind.

He said, “I had to get a few neighbours to help me get it back upright. It was such a shock to see the car like that.”

There were a number of trees blown across roads in rural areas including the Gilford Road close to Portadown Golf Club and at Knockbridge. An oak tree was also blown down at Edenvilla Park.

Paul Edwards, who lives in the Gilford Road area, said electricity in his home was off from 2.15pm on Friday, December 27 and was not restored until 10.15pm.

Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said that at one stage there were 1,700 homes across Craigavon without power, but this was swiftly reduced to just 100 by around 7pm on Friday evening, with many homes reconnected shortly after.

“Driving conditions were treacherous during the storm, with many fallen trees and power lines.

“I would also send my grateful thanks to those who helped in any way to keep the roads clear and safe and to the local emergency services who were called out on a number of occasions,” she said.

Julia Carson, communications manager at NIE, said the winds created difficult working conditions for engineers and emergency crews. Damage to the network included trees down across electricity equipment, broken poles and lines brought down. In many areas the repair process could not begin until the winds abated.

She said, “We were in regular contact with the Met Office over the Christmas period, placing emergency crews, engineers and call handlers on standby to respond quickly when the storm hit early on Boxing Night. Communities in Counties Down, Antrim and Armagh suffered the most damage and we brought staff from our western and northern districts, as well as additional contractors, to aid the repair effort. 

“Several hundred individual faults had to be repaired and extensive tree cutting, pole replacement and line restringing had to be carried out.”

The River Bann burst its banks on New Year’s Eve after prolonged heavy rain.