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Family left to weather the storm

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Family left to weather the storm thumbnailTony and Brenda with their sons Connor and Joseph survey the damage left by a lightning strike on their family home.

AN ANNACLONE couple whose home was struck by a freak lightning bolt face a repair bill of thousands of pounds.

The Higgins family stayed with family over the weekend after their home was damaged in last week's storm.

Tony and Brenda Higgins' house on Circular Road was left with a hole in the roof, the home's wiring all needs replaced and most of their electrical items were destroyed.

A bolt of lightning struck their daughter's old bedroom last Tuesday (22 August). While the family are thankful to have escaped with their lives, they are now counting the cost of the damage.

The family returned to their home earlier this week but have no heating or hot water and are awaiting a visit from their insurance company to find out if their policy will cover all the damage.

"It will run into thousands and will take months before everything is back to normal," Tony said.

The insurance assessors will not be out until later this week and the family have already been assessing their situation.

"All the wiring has been fried. The dishwasher, washing machine, TVs, anything that was on standby is gone," Tony said.

On the night of the lightning strike, Brenda had just put their young son to bed when the house was hit by what she called a "massive explosion".

Tony said their 13-year-old son had a lucky escape as he had been in the room that was hit.

The lightning bolt caused a hole in the roof space and a fire but the rain extinguished the flames before any further damage was caused.

When the damage was discovered, Brenda got the younger children out of the house. The family were staying with relatives since the damage and moved back to their home at the start of this week.

"We are back in the house temporary but have no heating or hot water at the moment. We have power but when you turn something on, something else usually trips.

"We were offered temporary accommodation but that was up in Killowen in mobile homes.

"No-one is coming out until Wednesday to look at the house so I have already had to spend a few thousand myself. I got a roofer and electrician out myself as we couldn't wait.

"It will run into thousands and will take months before everything is back to normal." While the family are extremely grateful that no-one was injured, the couple say their children have been left distraught and fearful by what happened.

"The children are still scared. My 13-year-old son was in the room when it happened. The youngest two, (who are 5 and 13) won't now stay in a room alone. If you walk out of a room they are following you.

"We could have been putting someone in the ground so you have to look at it that way too." The thunder and lightning storms caused a number of power outages across the area as two faulty generators caused around 24 hours of power cuts in Rathfriland and surrounding areas last Tuesday night and Wednesday. A number of householders now need replacement phones or internet hubs because of the lightning strike and power surges.

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