DAMAGED Yachts docked at Westport Quay capsized after the powerful gusts of Storm Eleanor saw their concrete anchor weights ripped from the ground.Pic:Paul Mealey
Close to 20,000 ESB customers left without power
Anton McNulty and Edwin McGreal
Gusts of up to 155 km per hour were recorded in Mayo yesterday evening (Tuesday), leaving thousands of households without power and generating fears of flooding in coastal communities.
Storm Eleanor struck the west coast of the county early yesterday evening with high gusts causing power cuts around the county and high tides causing flooding to coastal communities.
Residents in Carrowholly faced an anxious wait overnight when 30 homes were left cut-off after the local road flooded yesterday evening and the high tide was due to arrive once more at 5.30am this morning (Wednesday).
Met Éireann issued a status orange wind warning for Mayo yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon with westerly winds of speeds of 65 to 80km per hour predicted along with gusts of 110 to 130km per hour. The warning covered from 10pm last night, but the storm struck early and power-cuts were reported across the county shortly after 5pm.
Gusts of 155km per hour were recorded around 7pm at Knock airport and close to 20,000 ESB customers across Mayo were left without power. A number of trees were reported to have fallen right across the county, blocking a number of roads.
Crews from Mayo County Council and the Fire Service worked in darkness to clear roads and fortunately there were no reports of serious injury caused by the high winds at the time of going to print.
Galway City was hit by serious flooding on Tuesday evening and many coastal communities in Mayo had restless evenings with a combination of high tides and high winds resulting in some roads being flooded.
Up to 30 homes in Carrowholly near Westport were cut off when the local road was flooded and vehicles were unable to get by. In January 2014, storms and high tides caused the flooding of homes in the area and local councillor Christy Hyland said the residents were again in fear of repeat flooding.
“The road here in Carrowholly is flooded and impassable with up to 30 homes cut off at the moment,” he told The Mayo News on Tuesday evening. “At the moment the flood is receding as the tide goes out but the next high tide is due around 5.30am tomorrow morning and the residents are facing an very anxious wait overnight,” he explained.
A flood defence barrier which was damaged in 2014 has yet to be repaired due to delays, and Cllr Hyland claimed the residents are being treated like pawns in a game between the Office of Public Works and Mayo County Council.
“We have been calling for this barrier to be repaired and the money spent on surveys would have done the work. It was stalled to rehouse an otter and other reasons and now the residents have a real prospect of being flooded again. They are angry and frustrated and they are being treated like pawns in a game between the OPW and the Council. We were told the 2014 storm only occurred once every 100 years, but here we are only four years later and they face more flooding.”
There were also reports of extensive flooding at Newport Quay and Westport Quay and also incidents of surface flooding in other parts of the county. Mayo County Council issued a statement on Tuesday evening advising people to report any incidents of flooding.
‘As long as it takes’
The council’s Head of Communications, Martina Hughes, told The Mayo News last night that council staff would work for ‘as long as it takes’ to clear trees from roads in the county, overnight and into today (Wednesday).
Ms Hughes said there were trees down in ‘most areas of the county’.
“The weather warning was from 10pm on last night and so this storm came earlier than expected. Right now, we have to wait and see if there is more to come,” said Ms Hughes at 9pm last night.
“We would urge people to exercise extreme caution and if they see trees down or loose wires tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, and not to try to intervene themselves; ring the ESB if there are fallen power lines and if there are trees down, ring your local council office to report it,” she added.
Areas where there were trees down included the Kiltimagh to Balla road, Ballintubber, Cloonfad, the Bohola road from Foxford, the N5 from Castlebar to Swinford, the Swinford to Foxford road and the road from Swinford to the nearby N5. The highest concentration of power outage was in the Westport area, where 13,000 homes and businesses were without power yesterday evening.
Cllr Richard Finn said there were lots of trees down in his immediate Claremorris hinterland with roads blocked in Facefield, Brize, Garrywadreen and Murneen as well as in Knock, Bekan, Ballindine and Irishtown.
“The council are flat out trying to clear the roads,” Cllr Finn told The Mayo News.
An old balcony on a property beside the old Central Hotel on Mount Street in Claremorris also came down in high winds yesterday evening.