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Storm Frank: Travel, flooding and powers cuts and some useful telephone numbers…

Emergency services are advising the public to be prepared for the fallout from the extreme weather conditions which are due to arrive this evening.

Across the Province, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has already dealt with numerous flooding related calls.

With weather warnings now upgraded from yellow to amber, there will be severe disruption.
Storm Frank will see gale force winds up to 65mph inland.

This will bring the potential for structural damage and felled trees so motorists and the public are being advised to be prepared for the conditions and not to venture out unless their journey is absolutely necessary.

Very heavy prolonged rains will make conditions hazardous on the roads.

There are already reports across County Armagh of water lying and widespread flooding is expected.

The NI Fire and Rescue Service warns motorists not to attempt to drive through flooded roads as water can often be deeper than it looks.

If anyone finds themselves stranded or there is a risk to life, NIFRS advises people to phone 999 immediately.

P&O has cancelled all sailings between Larne and Cairnryan today due to high winds.

And the PSNI is also advising extreme caution.

A spokesperson said: “Due to anticipated severe weather conditions, high winds, heavy rain and predicted high tides over the next 36 hours, motorists should be mindful of the dangers posed along all coastal roads.

“In particular the areas of Newcastle Promenade, Ards Peninsula and the coastal route between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor should be treated with caution. Please observe all road closed signs.”

The weather warning for rain takes effect from 9pm tonight and remains in place until 7am tomorrow (Wednesday).

Animal charities are urging the public to keep their pets indoors while conditions persist.

The Consumer Council offers advice on what to do in the event of power cuts.

It says people should be aware of where their household fuses and trip switches are.

It advises: “Check your fuses and trip switches. Then check if your neighbours are without power. Check that electrical appliances and machinery are switched off at the wall. Leave one light on. Leave your fridge/freezer switched on with the door shut to maintain a low temperature.

“As a source of light, it is preferable to use a torch, oil or gas lamps rather than candles when your electricity is
off. If you must use naked flames, please take extra care and make certain that they are put out before you
go to bed.

“Check on elderly neighbours in your area to make sure they are OK.”

The Consumer Council also advises against driving in the event of power cuts but adds: “If you must drive be extra careful as street and traffic lights in your local area may also be disrupted.”

Anyone with a baby at home is encouraged to make sure they have a supply of pre-prepared formula baby milk and to prepare a flask of hot water to heat bottles and baby food.

For those who do experience difficulties, here are some useful numbers:

Northern Ireland Electricity – 08457 643 643

Flooding Incident Line – 0300 2000 100 (they will contact Rivers Agency, DRD Roads Service or NI Water as required)

Northern Ireland Housing Executive – 0344 892 0901

BT – 0800 800 151.

Emergency flood responders are on high alert in response to the Met Office amber weather warning, DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill has advised.

The Minister said her Rivers Agency staff were ready to respond to requests for assistance, with many coming off their Christmas holidays to help.

Minister O’Neill said: “Rivers Agency staff are working around the clock with other emergency responders to ensure that government provides as good a service as possible for those that need help. Our engineers and technical staff are on the ground checking river levels, clearing drainage grilles and checking sandbag stores.

“With an amber weather warning for heavy rain flooding is likely, especially as it is falling on already saturated ground and rivers levels are high. We are doing all we can to mitigate the risk of flooding and would also urge those who think they are at any flooding risk to take every precaution to protect their own homes or businesses.

“Farmers will have housed the majority of their cattle but we would advise them to move any sheep that are still grazing on flood risk land to move them to higher ground,” Minister O’Neill continued.

“Government departments, local councils and drainage authorities are all working closely with many staff put on standby for the next 24 hours. We will continue to monitor river levels overnight as well as ensuring culvert inlet grilles are clear of all debris. There is a risk that with strong winds forecast for overnight, wind-blown debris can block rivers and grilles.

“We would ask the public to report any flooding incidents to the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100 which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A member of staff will then contact the appropriate agency on your behalf,” the Minister added.

Transport NI has warned drivers not to enter flood water that is moving or more than four inches deep as fast moving water could mean you and your car are swept away. Remain safe and if unsure seek an alternative route. Up-to-date traffic information is available on: www.trafficwatchni.com

A spokesperson for TransportNI said: “Transport NI is advising drivers to take care on the roads, particularly along the coastal routes as severe weather conditions are expected.

“Motorists should not make unnecessary journeys along the A2 coastal route from Newry to Kilkeel this evening, as the combination of a high tide and the forecast high winds could lead to significant hazards. Engineers from TransportNI are will be monitoring the situation closely and may close this route for a period, if conditions require such action.”

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