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Ireland Battered By Year's Worst Storm
2004 10 28

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN, Ireland - The city of Cork and several towns were severely flooded Wednesday as the year's strongest Atlantic storm arrived with heavy rain and wind gusts of more than 70 mph. No deaths or injuries were reported.

The River Lee, which runs through Cork, burst its banks and flooded the southwestern city's main roads with up to 9.5 feet of water. Records indicated it was the worst such flood since 1962.

The surging tide caught shop workers in Ireland's second-largest city and homeward-bound commuters by surprise. Scores of cars, with water lapping at their windows, were abandoned on roads. Flotillas of beer kegs bobbed from pubs' cellars as shop owners scrambled to erect makeshift Eand largely ineffective Ebarricades at their front doors.

Firefighters escorted to safety people trapped in their cars by the flooding.

Flooding in towns to the east of Cork, like Waterford and Dungarvan, was nearly as bad. The River Suir also burst its banks, flooding key roads, forcing people to abandon waterlogged cars and sending workers into a frantic, often-futile battle to sweep back the tide with brooms.

Thousands of homes along Ireland's southern coast suffered periodic blackouts as the state-owned Electricity Supply Board struggled to repair downed lines.

Cork's airport also diverted many flights to other Irish airports and outbound passengers faced delays averaging four hours.

Authorities warned that worse was likely to come, with at least another day of harsh weather forecast and coastal residents braced for more possible flooding as high tides approached.

Most ferry services on routes to Britain and France were canceled.

But one Irish Ferries ship with more than 200 people aboard was caught in the storm as it crossed the Irish Sea to the southern Wales port of Pembroke. The captain, unable to dock the ship safely in Pembroke because of choppy seas, kept the ship at sea for several hours after its intended arrival.

In Dublin, the storm caused a tidal surge that trapped a Dutch man on a seaside walkway. Rescue workers in a helicopter used a line to pull him to safety.

The Irish Coast Guard advised people to avoid harbors, piers, cliffs, coastal walkways and other exposed seaside spots because of the risk of being blown or swept into the ocean.

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