Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Storm Ophelia: It will be weeks before scale of damage to Ireland's forests will be known

A fallen tree blocks the R292 at Culleenamore, Strandhill, Co. Sligo. Photo: James Connolly
A fallen tree blocks the R292 at Culleenamore, Strandhill, Co. Sligo. Photo: James Connolly
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

It could take weeks before the scale of damage caused by Storm Ophelia to Irish forestry is known, according to the state's forestry company Coillte.

Coillte Forests remain closed to recreational users and the general public today (Tuesday, October 17), while forest workers and contractors clear the resulting storm damaged trees and carry out assessments of the windblown damage caused by Hurricane Ophelia.

It says this work and the process of accessing the cost and full extent of the damage is expected to take a number of weeks to complete.

Following the re-opening of recreational forests, which is expected to be tomorrow, according to Coillte the public must still remain vigilant and exercise extreme care if entering Coillte land over the coming days as fallen and overhanging trees pose an extremely dangerous risk.

It warns members of the public should not approach fallen or overhanging trees as they pose a significant health and safety risk, while access routes blocked by trees should only be cleared by trained experts.

During a succession of storms in the winter of 2013/2014, culminating in Storm Darwin on February 12, 2014 forestry that had suffered damage

Estimates at the time, based on satellite imagery, indicate up to 1pc of the national forest area (approximately 8,000 hectares) was affected, the damage has been particularly extensive at a local level, especially in the south and parts of the midlands where substantial quantities of timber have been blown down.

Meanwhile, up to 360,000 people could lose their water supply today, as 215,000 customers are already without power and an estimated 150,000 people are without communication services following unprecedented Storm Ophelia.

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It is also feared that more customers will lose their broadband, telephone and mobile services today.

Three people lost their lives in the storm, which left a trail of destruction in its path across the country.

Fallen trees at Marina Park, Cork city. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Fallen trees at Marina Park, Cork city. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Irish Water said the "good news" is that the original number of 360,000 customers at risk of losing their water supply has now decreased to 310,000.

eir now estimates that approximately 150,000 customers are without broadband, telephone and mobile services as a result of Storm Ophelia.

They said the storm caused unprecedented and widespread levels of damage to eir’s infrastructure, including damage to poles and cables. They marked the southwest and the midlands as the worst affected areas, in particular Cork County.

Online Editors