WIND CHAOS

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UNSEASONAL weather wreaked havoc on Monday and elderly people had to get treatment at Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital after being blown off their feet in freak gusts for this time of year, writes Nevin Farrell.

On top of that thousands of homes and businesses across Ballymoney and Moyle were left without power and several roads were blocked by fallen trees. Power lines came down and a driver had a lucky escape when a tree hit a car at Ballymaconnelly Road, Rasharkin.

The Ballymoney and Moyle areas were rocked by gusts of up to 80mph and with the winds howling through streets during peak shopping hours many businesses reported a fall in trade.

There were reports of people feeling “afraid” to go out in case they were struck by flying debris.

And they had good reason to worry. The Northern Health Trust told the Times mid-afternoon on Monday they had four elderly people admitted to A&E at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine suffering from minor injuries after being “knocked over in the wind”.

Slates fell to the ground from roof tops onto Ballymoney Main Street but fortunately there were no reports of anyone coming to harm.

At one stage police sealed off Edward Street in Ballymoney as debris and guttering came off roofs.

Several wheelie bins blew onto roads and pedestrians reported it difficult to walk in the winds and many had to struggle to prevent themselves being blown into the paths of passing vehicles.

At one stage on Monday afternoon a large proportion of the 20,000 customers without electricity across Northern Ireland were in north Antrim. Businesses in Ballycastle town centre had their power knocked out at 11.30am and many were not on four hours later and trade was said to be suffering as people stayed at home.

Branches from trees were a common sight on roads across north Antrim and in the Ballymoney area trees were also down at Charlotte Street; close to ‘Murphy’s Filling Station’ on the busy A26 and at Macfin Road outside Leslie Hill.

Other roads blocked included Moyan Road and Moneycannon Road.

A lamp-post came down at Robinson Avenue, Ballymoney, and police received a report of electric cables down across Bann Road and power lines were reported to have fallen at Margaret Avenue, Ballymoney, Paul Creith of Ballymoney PSNI said

In the Moyle area trees fell at Whitepark Road; Torr Road and Coleraine Road, Ballycastle, while in Bushmills, Bridge Street was closed for a period because of falling slates, Inspector Bryan Hume of Moyle PSNI reported.

Rathlin Ferry was cancelled and the Giant’s Causeway was shut to visitors.

A DRD spokesperson said: “Approximately 20 trees have fallen in the Ballymoney & Moyle Council area.”

The wind was so strong a curtain-sided lorry trailer blew over as it was parked in the yard of Causeway Pallets & Transport Ltd at Fivey Road near Stranocum.

As a result the firm turned other parked trailers so they would not be sideway to the wind.

A company spokesperson said the wind was causing havoc for the haulage industry with boats not sailing to Scotland and England and driving conditions were extremely difficult for high-sided vehicles.

Phone lines were reported down in the Armoy area.

One person remarked the only good thing the wind did was it “removed a few election posters which the various parties had not got round to taking down yet!”