Gale force winds cause Boxing Day disruption

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Gale force winds have brought disruption to the festive holiday season for families across Banbridge.

Banbridge PSNI issued warnings advising people ‘not to go out unless necessary, due to the extremely stormy weather and high winds’, which swept across the southern and eastern counties of Northern Ireland on Boxing Day.

A number of fallen trees between Banbridge and Lurgan caused traffic problems and police advised motorists to exercise caution when driving. There were closures on the Gall Bog Road, Bannview Road, and Ardbrin Road Katesbridge due to fallen trees, with the Ballymoney Road closed due to a fallen tree and NIE powerlines down, and the Old Mill Lane Ballydown, closed due to a fallen tree and collapsed BT lines.

Readers also contacted us about disruption caused by fallen debris on several minor roads in the area.

Leanne Loney said: “Millvale Road, Annaclone is blocked with a fallen tree”, Leanne Peake Mayne: “A tree is down on the Rathfriland Road, before Sentry Box junction” and Denise McGuigan: “The Dromara Road is closed as elecric power lines are down”.

A tree down on the A1 at Banbridge also caused disruption and Pauline Lilley said: “My husband had to pull fallen branches off the carriageway”.

The Ballyroney Road, Banbridge was also closed due to fallen debris in the storm.

Battling the high winds since Boxing night, NIE emergency crews worked to restore power to homes without electricity following the severe gales which saw gusts of up to 75 mph. All power was restored to customers by Saturday evening. Across the provence over 33,000 customers lost electricity supplies following damage to the network.

Julia Carson, NIE Communications Manager said: “The damage to the network has been substantial with the storm force winds felling trees, breaking poles and bringing down lines”.

NIE teams from the north and west were involved in the restoration effort in Counties Down and Armagh and additional contractors were brought in to help get customers back on supply as quickly and safely as possible.

As the winds eased locals were left to count the cost of storm damage to property, with fences, gardens and greenhouses mainly affected.

Caroline Mitchell said: “The neighbours green house is totally dismamtled”.

Norah Beare, who lost 6ft tall fencing along the complete length of her bungalow, said: “Had I been near at the time probably would have been injured.”