‘Total disaster’ for struggling farmers

the main entrance to this house on the outskirts of Dungiven is blocked by a large amount of snow, all is visible of the gates and pillars is the lights on top of the pillars. (2603JB90)
the main entrance to this house on the outskirts of Dungiven is blocked by a large amount of snow, all is visible of the gates and pillars is the lights on top of the pillars. (2603JB90)

‘The ferocious wave of Arctic weather has come at the worst possible time for farmers in the Roe Valley who say the blizzard conditions have claimed the lives of dozens of newborn lambs.

Farmers throughout the Limavady borough have been left exhausted after working all hours in a bid to reach stranded stock and keep them alive.

Worst hit during the weekend were those living and farming in higher ground, such as Drumsurn and the Benedy area, Dungiven.

Sheep farmer, Perry Semple from Drumsurn said it was a “total disaster”. He said in the three days before the snow fell, 70 of his ewes had lambed but, over the weekend, he had lost at least 40 new born lambs and three to four ewes.

“It’s nearly impossible to do anything,” he said, yesterday. “It’s a total disaster. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

In Dungiven, Benedy farmer Dominic Hasson managed to get the farm’s 200 sheep to safety, but it wasn’t an easy job.

“All you could see was the black heads sticking up through the snow,” he said. “I’ve never seen it as bad. It’s a nightmare.”

Mr Hasson says his family has been snowed in since Friday, and he has been forced to trudge through several feet of snow, in places where it has drifted several feet, to get supplies for his family and neighbours.

“People don’t realise how bad it is,” he said.

NIE said at its peak more than 140,000 customers were without power following the severe weather which swept across Northern and eastern counties on Thursday night.

Dozens of housesholds in the Roe Valley, including those in the Limavady, Magilligan and Gortnaghey areas were affected.