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Newsbrowser closed by freak snow storms|
The editorial team of this usually reliable publication wishes to apologize to its readers for a rather long absence. This was entirely due to the freak snow storms, which hit Northern Ireland at the very beginning of April.
This storm trapped many travellers on the Glenshane pass and disconnected the electricity to more than 100 000 homes. As Northern Ireland is only a wee place, it can be seen that this was a major interruption.
On the left the interested reader can study what was left of the power line supplying the computers of the Newsbrowser. Apparently the ice secretion was so sticky, it attached itself to the powerlines until they couldn't support the weight any more and snapped.
As can be seen from the above photograph, the valley was largely unaffected - only the hills surrounding it suffered from the weather. Unfortunately the snow not only cut off our power, but it completely destroyed the telephone lines to our offices has well.
On the right is our famous news-hound Tudor - accompanied by his editor - examining the snow drifts of Benevenagh. Some of these were six feet deep and put an end to all comings and goings on that side of the mountain. Farmers with very large tractors were the only people moving about on that day.
Unfortunately for the local hill-farmers, all this happened at the height of the lambing season, following a very hard Winter which destroyed most of the grazing. To try and feed freezing and starving animals when access was near impossible required long hours of hard work in unbelievable weather conditions.
Many animals will have been lost but what could be done has been done. Congratulations to the hardy Ulster sheep farmers.
NIE - the Northern Ireland Electricity Service - pulled out all the stops and one really cannot praise those energetic maintenance crews enough. Some of them had rushed to help from a long, long way away. The crew on the left for example was - you've guessed it - from Tipperary. Once they arrived four days into the emergency, they had the line fixed within two hours.
Unfortunately, BT - the telephone company - was considerably more sluggish in their response and it took them many more days to replace the telephone line - which explains the late publication of this rather lengthy article.
We would like to thank Madonna and Ryan Bond, who supplied transport and enough precious fuel to keep our presses turning - - - and would the mystery walker who lost his stick in the snow, please call at our offices if he wants the thing back.
BT and NIE|
The above mentioned emergency has given the Newsbrowser team ample opportunities to compare the response of two public utility companies to the recent regional emergency. The contest was entirely one-sided. Whilst NIE quite rightly pulled all the stops, employed extra teams from far away and worked seven days a week, BT seems to have done very little at all.
This a report of the Newsbrowser's experiences in this matter. Our suspicions were first aroused when the NIE's repair crew, who fixed the electricity supply after only four days, commented shortly after arrival: "There is little evidence of any of the BT boys doing anything". They were quite correct. The only BT maintenance van we could spy was in central Limavady - where no lines had been cut and they were doing routine work - whilst out in the hills very little seemed to be happening at all.
To do BT justice, one man arrived in a van after five days and tried to fix the lines by looking at them for half an hour, but unfortunately this didn't work. The policy of the company seems to be to tell their customers that something will happen very soon "in three working days" - indicating that weekend work doesn't count for this emergency. Another ploy was to say: "You are on the top of the priority list, it will be fixed tomorrow". This performance was then repeated tomorrow. It reminded our editor of some of the talkative cowboy builders he has talked to in the past: wonderful promises and very little action.
How a once excellent high tech company in the 21st century can sink to the level of taking 17 days to repair a damaged line during an emergency is anyone's guess. (It turned out to be a 25-minute repair job.)
Full marks to NIE of course - you all did wonderfully well, ladies and gentlemen!
Clear blue skies|
Readers are invited to take a close look at the photograph on the left and try to see something unusual.
The remarkable thing is not what is there but what isn't! Limavady is right beneath a major air corridor connecting the British Isles with America. Generally when you look up you see several jet trails and a very thin mist which is the remains of previous jet trails.
Due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (somebody really should be fined for inventing such a name), most air traffic over Northern Europe was stopped in the middle of this month. The effect in the sky above the valley was quite remarkable.
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