Winds blow a gale through borough

Ballyclare Christmas tree was unable to withstand the storm force winds. INNT 07-609con

Ballyclare Christmas tree was unable to withstand the storm force winds. INNT 07-609con

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BALLYCLARE’S Christmas tree was brought down ahead of schedule as storm force winds ripped a path through the borough at the weekend.

Winds reaching speeds upwards of 80mph were recorded in places bringing down trees and leaving a trail of destruction.

While Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) could not be specific as to the number of Newtownabbey homes left without power, it is believed that thousands across the country had their electricity cut off.

Teams of engineers worked to repair power lines brought down by the winds close to Rushpark, while some homes in Ballyclare were left without electricity overnight on Tuesday, January 3.

Sara McClintock from NIE Communications said: “We succeeded in restoring power to tens of thousands of customers within the first 12 hours thanks to the tremendous effort of all staff, from engineers and linesmen to logistics and call handling. We are concentrating now on restoring power to customers who have experienced the very worst damage caused by this storm. Any customer wishing to report a fault should contact NIE’s Customer Helpline on 08457 643 643 where you can speak to one of our customer services team or, due to high volumes of call, you may hear a voice message providing the latest available information.”

The company, which is responsible for maintaining the power supply network also urged members of the public to be very cautious and not to approach felled electricity lines or damaged substations.

Meanwhile, the winds left a trail of destruction with bins and litter left strewn across many of the borough’s streets. And on Monday night Ballyclare’s Christmas tree proved unable to withstand the force of the unprecedented winds.