By Margaret Roddy
Hailstorms in Italy’s north caused destruction to many areas, including one family living in North Louth.
Dave Fearon was relaxing with his wife Mairead from Mountpleasant and children Katie, Jamie and Kevin, as well as his parents Briege from Mountpleasant in the Bella Italia campground when a storm struck the region and caused hailstones that were the size of tennis ball to fall.
Former Dundalk Rugby Club Coach and Player, John Dundalk recalls: “We had been playing cards in the garden when there was a sudden storm.”
The hailstorm was preceded by intense thunder and lightning, which they thought to be normal in warm weather.
However, it intensified quickly, as hailstones started to hit the campsite.
“Suddenly the wind whipped up.” “At first the hailstones looked like peanuts. But then, they became the size and shape of tennis balls.”
It was only by chance that we were able to get inside, as the canopy had protected the door. When we first arrived, the poor girl had a severe gash in her head. In the middle of the storm, she was at work in the restaurant. She was cleaned up after the storm and taken to the reception. It was a very bad situation and she almost died.
Hailstones pelted the roof of the bungalow, scaring the two children aged nine and eight. Cars, caravans, and campervans were also damaged.
Dave said, “We went to the site the following morning and saw its devastation.”
Storms accompanied by strong winds brought trees and branches down on site. Patio furniture was also damaged. Hailstones damaged the windscreens of the vehicles and caravans at the site.
Damage to the pool forced it to close for two days.
To avoid people driving their damaged cars during the cleaning operation, vehicles were towed.
They ran out of windshields because there were too many cars that had broken windows.
Due to the storms many European tourists drove into Italy and were left stranded. To help these people, relief operations have been set up.
Dave, his wife and their children flew back to the United States on Saturday.
A strike of Italian luggage handlers cut their vacation short.
Dave said, “Mairead took the children and me out for three days, then my parents arrived the next week.”
They were surprised to find that the temperature was only around 28deg-38deg.
“The heat never became unbearable.”
He claims that the local residents he talked to said they had never seen weather as severe as this hailstorm.
They’re used to getting 8-10″ of rain in a storm but haven’t seen anything quite like this.
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