Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 14:53 UK

Ten thousand still without power

Northern Ireland Electricty (NIE) repair snow damaged lines in Cargan in Co Antrim
More than 200 repair staff have been brought in to help restore power supplies

A number of emergency relief centres have been opened across Northern Ireland, to help those who have had no electricity for days.

The Red Cross and other voluntary groups are helping statutory bodies with the operation.

It is estimated that about 10,000 homes are still without power following the severe weather.

NIE has said that it hopes to have power restored to a number of areas on Saturday.

The company has said more than 100,000 customers have now had their power restored after Tuesday's ice storms.

The areas which it is hoping to reconnect on Saturday are:

  • Claudy
  • Limavady
  • Dungiven
  • Dunamanagh
  • Plumbridge
  • Cookstown
  • Martinstown/Cargan
  • Glenwherry
  • Buckna
  • Glarryford
  • Clough
  • NIE says it it is having to completely rebuild the network in the "Cloughmills, Ballycastle, Ballymoney triangle" but hoped to have customers in those areas restored "throughout the weekend".

    Sara McClintock from Northern Ireland Electricity said: "The damage caused by the ice storm in the Cloughmills, Ballycastle and Ballymoney areas is unprecedented with over 300 damage locations, most with multiple poles felled or conductors down.

    "We are faced with having to rebuild around 4.5 miles of overhead line network - this type of work would normally take weeks and we're condensing this to days."

    The emergency centres are at: Millennium Centre, Loughgiel; Joey Dunlop Centre, Ballymoney; Martinstown Parochial Hall; Loughry College, near Cookstown; the An Creagain Centre in Omagh Dungiven Community Centre, Glarryford Young Farmers Hall and Neillsbrook Community Centre in Randalstown.

    NIE says the centres would give help and support to the people who've been worst affected.

    Donna O'Connor, who lives five miles outside Dungiven in County Londonderry, has been without power since Tuesday.

    Her five children, one of whom has a serious heart condition, are staying with various relatives.

    "They need to be fed and watered and washed and we can't do that at home.

    "It's just not very nice having a family split up over Easter," she said.

    "There's no heat in the house, I have a young boy who has quite a serious heart condition so he was my main concern."

    Andrew Holmes, who lives in Tamlaght O'Crilly between Kilrea and Upperlands, has been without power for the same length of time.

    "We have had absolutely no detailed explanation at all," he said.

    "We haven't had one person or one representative from Northern Ireland Electricity in the village to some to the people's homes to try and explain everything."

    Rescue

    On Thursday, the police helicopter has had to help rescue a snowbound family in County Tyrone.

    The family had been trapped in their Plumbridge home following heavy snow earlier this week.

    On Thursday, they called police after they realised their food and gas supplies would not last.

    Sergeant Stephen Creighton of the PSNI Search and Rescue unit said the snow was eight-feet deep in places.

    "Once the situation was reviewed I contacted North West Mountain Rescue who sent out three Land Rovers to try and reach the family," he said.

    "Unfortunately the heavy snowfall made any attempts by the volunteers to get close to the house impossible. Our main concern was the young children in the house who would not have been able to make it through the snow which was eight feet deep in places.

    Broken pole
    A broken electricity pole at Slaughtmanus near Claudy

    "The adults were able to make it to the Land Rovers, however, we used the police helicopter to transfer the children from the house to their parents."

    More than 200 extra repair staff have been brought in from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain to help NIE restore power supplies to homes.

    The company said most homes would have power by Friday, but that some customers in Cloughmills could be without power into the Easter weekend.



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