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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 17:27 GMT
Storms cut power supplies
Severe weather is forecast until Saturday
Severe weather is forecast until Saturday
Electricity supplies have been restored to most of Northern Ireland following overnight gale force winds and heavy rain.

About 100 homes are still without power. after cables in several parts of the province were damaged.

Engineers are working to repair the isolated faults and it is expected that power will be restored later on Friday.

A total of 3,300 customers had their electricity supply disrupted in the course of the storms.

At this moment we are not looking at this as a major all-day event

Robin Greer NIE

Earlier on Friday, Robin Greer of Northern Ireland Electricity said he thought the worst was over and that NIE had prepared for the severe weather by keeping repairs engineers on standby.

However, high south-westerly winds are continuing to sweep across the province.

The Jordanstown Road in Newtownabbey has been blocked by a fallen tree.

The severe weather - gale force winds to storm force with gusts of up to 70 mph - has been forecast to continue until Saturday evening.

It is the second time this week that the weather has disrupted powers supplies.

On Sunday and Monday night approximately 35,000 customers were affected at various stages when 80mph winds brought down power lines across the province.

'No major damage'

Mr Greer told BBC Radio Ulster: "There seems to be a pattern this morning, there doesn't seem to be any major damage or any long-lived faults," he said.

"Most customers who have been restored have been restored within two hours.

"Hopefully that will be the pattern for the rest of the day and anyone without supply won't be off for too long.

"I am sure there are going to be a small number of customers, in the immediate vicinity of a fault where a pole has been damaged, who may lose supply for a few hours afterwards.

"But at this moment we are not looking at this as a major all day event."

NIE has set up a fault helpline on 08457 643643.

Ferry services have also been affected by the high winds with Stena Line and Seacat services cancelled.

Severe flooding has been affecting parts of County Down. Homes have been flooded and a number of roads closed.

Some streets in Ballyhalbert, Newry and Portaferry were reported to be under water.

In Newcastle, the sea wall at the Slieve Donard hotel has been completely washed away.

The tennis courts are under water but the hotel is still open.

The Roads Service are warning drivers to take extreme care on the main Donaghadee to Portaferry road due to damage caused by the high tide and weather. Other areas along the coast have also been affected.

Walkers were not deterred by the bracing conditions
Walkers were not deterred by the bracing conditions

Meanwhile, motorists have been trapped in floods in the Irish Republic and power supplies have also been affected.

Gardai in Galway have advised motorists to stop driving through flooded areas after around 20 people had to be rescued from their cars.

Officers said the situation was "extremely serious", with strong winds and a high tide causing flooding of up to two feet in low-lying areas.

Technicians from the Electricity Supply Board are battling against high winds to repair fallen overhead cables which had cut power to up to 1,000 homes in north county Dublin.

Fallen trees and localised flooding were also causing chaos on many roads across the country.

Forecasters said southerly gales of between 70mph and 90mph were expected across the country.

NIE spokesman Robin Greer:
"It is a case of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst"
See also:

28 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Storms cut power to thousands of homes
03 Oct 01 | Business
Watchdogs probe electrical stores
21 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
NIE prepared 'whatever the weather'
17 Dec 01 | Europe
Europe battles snow and floods
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