Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Over 160,000 still without power as nation reels from Storm Darwin

Published 13/02/2014|13:52

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Part of a wall collapses on a parked car in Limerick. (Photo: Twitter/Cillian Flynn)

Approximately 165,000 homes are still without power this afternoon as the ESB crews continued to work at restoring electricity in the aftermath of Storm Darwin.

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Some homes are expected to be without power until late this evening and possibly a number of days, according to ESB, as they have worked “since first light” to repair nationwide electrical faults

"Our crews got a few hours sleep last night and were back to work at first light. We have imported all the crews we can – up to 2,000 network technicians and 300 damage assessors," Jerry O'Sullivan, MD at ESB told RTE Radio.

Mr O’ Sullivan said ESB encountered “hurricane conditions” and had a “mammoth task” ahead of them over the next few days.

"Massive trees and roofs of sheds are blocking our path – our crews are going to have to cut our way in to customers and that is going to take some time," said Mr O’Sullivan, with latest ESB updates revealing that there are currently 5,500 faults on the system. 

Last night Met Eireann issued a ‘Status Red’ warning for Leinster, Munster & Connacht" with damaging and dangerous winds, thunderstorms and spot flooding”.

The vicious storm wreaked havoc when it ripped through much of the country with unexpected ferocity – leaving the nation to pick up the pieces today.

Part of a wall collapses on a parked car in Limerick. (Photo: Twitter/Cillian Flynn)

Commuters faced substantial delays this morning as battled the treacherous roads strewn with fallen trees and debris as they travelled to work.

An Garda Siochana and AA Roadwatch also warned drivers to be extremely cautious of falling snow, black ice and spot flooding on the roads today.

AA roadwatch's website crashed this morning for several hours as they experienced high volumes of traffic due to the adverse weather conditions.

Train passengers were also impacted as a number of Irish Rail services were substantially delayed or cancelled, with bus services required on routes including Tralee to Mallow and Limerick to Athenry.

Power outages at level crossings and weather related level crossing problems resulted in delays on services to and from Waterford, and on the Cork to Heuston route.

Storm damage in Kilbeacanty, Co. Galway. Sent in by Miguel Castro

Irish Rail's Jenny Cregan said that the company was working overtime to cope with the damage.  "Over 100 people were out last night with chainsaws removing debris from the lines," she said.

Ongoing high winds also meant the cancellation of some services with Irish Ferries as the 14.15 Dublin to Holyhead and sailings between Rosslare and Cherbourg were called to a halt. 

University Hospital Limerick has today been attempting to clear as many beds as possible to cope with increased demand, with elective surgery has been cancelled for today. Several public Parks in Limerick City were also closed today for safety reasons.

A total of 13 AIB branches have closed today in some of the worst storm-affected locations, including outlets at Tipperary, Cashel, Kilrush, Mallow, Abbeyfeale, Bantry, Cahirciveen, Castleisland, Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Dingle, Dunmanway, Killorglin and Skibbereen.

Yesterday Bank of Ireland closed its doors at a number of locations due to power outages. Consumers have been advised to call ahead or contact their bank branch through Twitter before attending.

Miraculously, not one person was seriously injured in the storm last night. However, An Garda Siochana have asked people to call on elderly neighbours or those living alone to check on their welfare.

"Please be neighbourly and don’t assume others will," a garda spokesperson said.

St. Vincent de Paul’s John Mark Mc Cafferty said the society was “focusing of repairing heating in homes and keeping homes warm,” telling RTE Radio that the volunteers are seeing a lot of hardship across the south coast and the West.

“Volunteers are delivering bags of coal and assisting towards the cost of food and the invisible costs such as laundry expenses. Life goes on, people still need their clothes to be washed.”

“We are reacting as things arise, as people are calling our offices. We will be there in three weeks, in three months, to assist long after the immediate response is finished,” he promised.

Minister for Environment Phil Hogan told RTE Radio 1 this afternoon that the current devastation has “caused an awful lot of angst for a number of people” and reported that the €70m fund allocated to cope with storm damage was “always going to be an initial figure.”

“Met Eireann are talking about further bad weather over the next 24 and 48 hours.  We will continue to assess [the damage] and give an update to the Cabinet next Tuesday.

"This has been the fifth worst storm recorded in Irish history. And there is no point in giving a figure until we see the conclusion of events.”

The minister thanked the workers on the front line services for all their efforts and said “the level of co-ordination with the National Emergency Coordination Group has been exemplary”.

The co-ordination unit warned people about safety in the aftermath of the storm including using candles and open heating sources in the home.

Louise Kelly

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