THERE were dramatic scenes on the streets of Kilmallock this Wednesday evening when what locals described as “a mini tornado” struck, injuring four people.
At around 3pm, buildings on the town’s main street shook as freak weather conditions took hold ripping the roof off a disused shop known as Cregg’s.
Two people sitting in a car parked across the street from the shop had a narrow escape as debris from the roof fell down on their vehicle.
Further down the street, a galvanised shed was carried by the wind from a back garden out onto the main street, knocking two chimneys in its path
A woman who was walking on Sarsfield Street at the time was struck on the head with pieces of debris. She taken to hospital but is not understood to have been seriously injured. Sheets of galvanise from the shed were still visible on the street when the Leader visited the scene. James McGlinchey of The American Crew Barber Shop, which is located across from Cregg’s shop, said people came screaming from the local buildings when the storm took hold.“It happened over five or six minutes – the wind just got more and more intense,” said Mr McGlinchey, standing in his barber shop, an hour after the incident.“Everything in here started shaking. I genuinely thought this building was going to collapse. It was worse than a tornado, the intensity was frightening – the noise of the wind,” said James.
“All I could think of was my daughter in school so I rang my wife and asked her where was she and the next minute it was like a bomb went off. I had to hang up.”When he went out onto the street, James saw a car outside his shop covered with debris. That car out there was buried with the roof,” he said. “The roof was lying on top of it. Myself and a few guys from the bookies all went out and cleared the car. There were two people in the car – a man and a woman. They were not seriously injured but they were fairly shaken.”
“At that stage there were people coming screaming out of the building across the road. There were a few head injuries. The road was completely littered – you couldn’t drive a car down – there was slates and timber all over the place.”
Greg Conway, station officer with Kilmallock Fire Brigade, said the freak storm lifted the roof off the shop and lifted other sheds from the back of houses. “Our main priority is to get this street open again – we are nearly there. We have to wash it down. It is down to freak weather conditions,” he added. Two archaeologists who were working inside Cregg’s shop also sustained injuries which are not believed to be serious. A total of three people were taken by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick.
Fourteen fire officers from Kilmallock and Rathkeale attended the scene initially and were later backed up by a further six officers who had attended the scene of a fallen tree at Hynes Cross.
The main street in the town was closed off for several hours with diversions put in place.“The two chimneys have to be secured. There was damage done at the complex at the GAA pitch as well,” explained Garda Robert Young of Kilmallock garda station.