Seaside dweller ‘gladly puts up with’ freak weather for location

Harry's Shack, Portstewart
Harry's Shack, Portstewart

An experienced seaside dweller whose home was flooded when the north coast was battered with severe gales and large waves has declared: “I gladly put up with that every few years.”

Jimmy Dempsey, 69, who owns the Dempsey’s of Portstewart electrical store, said whilst his shop was not affected his garage and basement were flooded in the house.

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

The area had been severely battered by the “weather bomb” which had rolled in from the north Atlantic.

Despite tough conditions over the previous days, the businessman was sanguine.

He said: “If you live beside the sea you can have beautiful days in June and July and then you pay the price come December and January, and that is just part of the deal.

“You cannot have everything. If you live on the rocks like I do you just know that. I have been living in the same place for 40 years and this is my third time being flooded and I would gladly put up with that every few years.”

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

Mr Dempsey added that storm prevention measures “would spoil the look of the town”.

Donal Doherty, owner of Harry’s Shack, a restaurant on Portstewart strand, said there “was a real fear factor on the strand on Wednesday”.

“After seeing the second person getting into trouble on the beach I left because I thought I was going to see someone die,” he said.

“It was beyond crazy. Our building has huge concrete reinforcements at the front so we are pretty solid.

Harry's Shack, Portstewart

Harry's Shack, Portstewart

“People were saying on site yesterday it was the worst they had seen in 25 years.

“So, really, at what point do you build (flood) protection up to? The big freak thing on Wednesday was the swell.”

Independent councillor for Coleraine borough, Council Christine Alexander, said it is “very difficult to hold back the natural elements”.

She added: “It is so seldom it happens and considering the cost I am not sure the council would go along with such expenditure. It would be a hugely costly exercise. At this moment in time I do not think there is the money available to do it.”

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

The view from Harry's Shack on Wednesday

Meanwhile, it also emerged that waves five times the height of a double-decker were recorded off the west coast of Donegal on Wednesday.

The Republic’s official forecasting agency Met Eireann had measured the height of waves as 15.7m at 11am.

This was a new record for Donegal Bay.

A yellow weather warning remained in place for ice and snow until 11am for the Province, having started at 10am yesterday.

Last night there were reports of some snowfall in high areas to the west of Cookstown.

The Christmas Village at Ebrington in Londonderry reported that it was reopening at 4pm yesterday after the threat of stormy conditions forced its closure.

A “weather bomb” – known as explosive cyclogenesis by meteorologists – happens when there is a rapid fall in pressure in the central section of an area of low pressure.

The level has to fall by 24 millibars in 24 hours in our latitudes to be classed as a “weather bomb”.

It happens most frequently over sea near major warm ocean currents, such as the western Pacific Ocean near the Kuroshio Current, or over the north Atlantic Ocean near the Gulf Stream.

Recent estimates suggest there are between 45 and 65 explosive cyclogenesis events a year and that more “bombs” tend to occur in the northern hemisphere.

The Met Office said: “In many ways a ‘bomb’ can be seen as simply a more powerful, more intense version of the kind of Atlantic low pressure systems that normally affect the UK.”

The rapid deepening of the low pressure in the current “weather bomb” happened on Monday.