independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Storms at end for now but thousands still without power

ESB crew Michael Stack and Denny Walsh from Tralee working in North Kerry. Crews from Northern Ireland have been drafted in to help restore power to thousands of homes in Kerry. Hurricane force winds caused unprecedented damage to power lines leaving businesses and homes in the dark. Photo: Domnick Walsh
ESB crew Michael Stack and Denny Walsh from Tralee working in North Kerry. Crews from Northern Ireland have been drafted in to help restore power to thousands of homes in Kerry. Hurricane force winds caused unprecedented damage to power lines leaving businesses and homes in the dark. Photo: Domnick Walsh

The Atlantic 'storm factory' weather system which brought chaos to Ireland is over for now, forecasters say.

However, it will be another five days before electricity is restored to all homes hit by 'Storm Darwin' last week.

Met Eireann's John Eagleton says we can expect a return to "normal late winter" weather this week. The west will see heavy rain and winds later this week. "But the run of bad weather of recent weeks is at an end for now," he said.

"It's difficult to give the exact reasons for this, but high pressure is slowly returning to the Mediterranean and the low-pressure systems are going further north. It means the polar air which was further south and helping to whip up these storms isn't causing as many problems."

Temperatures could rise to 11C in places this week.

It will be blustery and wet today, Wednesday and Friday but "nothing we don't normally see this time of the year", according to Met Eireann.

Meanwhile, the ESB has warned that it will be Thursday before electricity is restored to all homes and businesses affected by Storm Darwin.

Crews, contractors and colleagues from NIE in the North restored power to thousands of customers yesterday, with about 30,000 homes still without power.

"It will be Wednesday or Thursday before the final 6,000 homes in rural areas are connected," said ESB's Bevin Cody.

There was also a warning to people – especially children – not to touch fallen power lines or poles. "The improvement in weather conditions, coinciding with the school mid-term break means that more children will be outdoors playing this week.

"We are reminding members of the public not to go near fallen lines as there is a chance they may be live. We are also asking parents, teachers and sports coaches to warn children in their care of the dangers of approaching fallen lines."

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Ronan Mullen has accused the Government of "throwing in the towel" over possible EU emergency disaster funding for those worst affected by flood damage in the recent storms.

He rejected Environment Minister Phil Hogan's claim that an application by Ireland to the EU Solidarity Fund wouldn't get heard because Ireland doesn't meet the criteria.

"The line from the Government seems to be we are not even going to try," the senator said.

He said "harder questions" needed to be asked about why the EU criteria were so difficult to reach and why the Solidarity Fund had been reduced from €1bn to €500m.

Irish Independent

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