Storm Ellen: Boat crews rescued on Lough Erne

Lifeboat crews were tasked to rescue six passengers in two boats on Lough Erne as Storm Ellen swept across Northern Ireland – and caused widespread destruction in the Republic – in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Thursday, 20th August 2020, 5:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th August 2020, 5:44 pm
Waves crashing on the Front Strand in Youghal, Co. Cork on Wednesday evening as Storm Ellen began battering the Irish coastline. PA image

Enniskillen RNLI said the boats were moored at the Devenish West jetty but were being moved violently by the strength of the winds around 3.45am.

In a separate incident, RNLI shorecrew assisted with three vessels which were breaking their moorings at Lough Erne Yacht Club.

In a Twitter message, Enniskillen RNLI said: “We were tasked at 3.46am to two boats moored at Devenish West jetty and were breaking their moorings. Volunteer crew reassured the six passengers and secured the boats. All six people were brought safely into Enniskillen via lifeboat.”

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Fermanagh was the worst affected county in Northern Ireland by the storm that caused widespread destruction in the southern counties of the Republic and in many coastal areas.

Gales and driving rain forced the closure of the Foyle Bridge in Londonderry in the early hours of the morning, and led to cemeteries in the city being closed for several hours yesterday while tree inspections were carried out.

The City Cemetery, Ballyoan and Altnagelvin cemeteries were all closed, however, funerals were still permitted take place as scheduled.

Brooke Park, Waterside and other play areas were also closed to the public while inspections were carried out.

In a statement, Derry City and Strabane Council said it was “assessing a number of sites and responding to reports of tree damage at some of our properties including St Columb’s Park”.

It also reiterated its message to the public to take note of the weather advisory information from the Met Office, and “to refrain from using public parks, play areas during this period of adverse weather if possible”.

A Met Office warning of strong winds and heavy rain for Thursday evening and into this morning was in place last night.

It said there could be “a risk of travel delays, power cuts, damage to property, large waves, and fallen trees,” overnight.

Fallen trees blocked or partially blocked nine roads across Co Fermanagh, and several in Co Down including Downpatrick’s Ballynoe Road in both directions and the Mountstewart Road in the Newtownards area.

In Co Antrim fallen trees blocked roads in Armoy and Cushendall.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said: “The unseasonably deep Atlantic low-pressure system brought very strong winds and impacts across the island of Ireland, with power cuts and reports of roads blocked by fallen trees in Northern Ireland.

“Wind gusts of 62mph were recorded in Fermanagh early on Thursday morning.”

The storm left almost 194,000 homes and businesses across the Republic of Ireland without power.

Another Met Office yellow weather warning for wind is in place for England, Wales, parts of Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland from 4am until 6pm on Friday.