A RETIRED architect spoke of his fear after he saw “sparks flying up into the sky” and felt his house shake when a fallen tree cut down power lines and destroyed his garden wall during Storm Ellen.
Frank Bouchier was in the comfort of his home and art studio on Ashbourne Avenue when he saw “a big flash outside the window” at around 12.30am, shortly after torrential rain and wind hit Limerick.
But he had not realised, then, that a tree on the main road had toppled over a boundary wall, across a one-way access road and landed on his tall front wall.
“But the power had been banged out at that point. I was completely without electricity since about 12.30 last night. I was up until about six or half six this morning, waiting to take care of anything that might have happened,” said Frank, who teaches art to people of all ages from his home.
Power lines were downed, cut and exposed along Ashbourne Avenue for more than 100 metres, with many hanging over parked cars, looped around metal gates and dangling along the footpath.
“It was like fireworks, the sparks flying up into the sky. I got a fright alright. Right outside the window, and the house shook. Being a detached house, it was hit from all four sides, and I could feel the house shaking. My fear was that the windows were going to come in. The windows were rattling. My fear was that the whole thing would collapse—I haven’t looked at the roof yet.”
One neighbour said that all the houses along this strip of the road have been without electricity since after midnight.
“It was a mess; the wall broken, tree down, I got an awful fright. The power lines were down along this side of the road,” Frank said.
Frank was unable to talk to the emergency number at Limerick City and County Council until the time of the interview because his mobile phone and landline were both “out of action”.
He was waiting 10 minutes to be connected to an operator and eventually was able to have the issue logged with the emergency team.
“I can’t do anything now. I have no phone, no power, nothing. So I have to wait until this repaired by the maintenance people, the emergency people, whoever they are.”
Neighbour and councillor, Joe Leddin spoke with local residents and liaised with the local authority on the matter.
Speaking to the Leader, the Labour councillor said: "I am thankful that no was injured, albeit sad to see another tree down as they are a real focal point in our community. I reassured neighbours that both ESB and Limerick City and County Council will be on site later, and also have requested remaining trees on Courtbrack Avenue to be inspected, based on age and height, as neighbours are concerned with winter approaching."
Storm Ellen battered Limerick in the early hours of Thursday morning, causing severe damage due to fallen trees, power lines, debris and numerous incidents of flooding.
It’s understood Limerick Fire and Rescue Service were particularly busy with emergency calls until 3.30am, and continue to respond to Storm Ellen’s residual damage.
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