Devastating storms claim first fatality
Killed when repairing storm damage
THE effort to rebuild the country's broken infrastructure in the wake of last week's devastating storms has claimed its first victim.
Michael O'Riordan, 65, had been working with Eircom crews to restore phone lines on the Beara Peninsula on the Castletownbere Road near Glengarriff, Co Cork, when he was struck by a pole at around 2pm yesterday.
Paramedics raced to the scene, but Mr O'Riordan, a father-of-three who hails from the Skibbereen area, was pronounced dead at the scene.
He was transferred to Cork University Hospital where a post-mortem will take place tomorrow. The death is not being treated as suspicious and gardai have said they will hand the investigation over to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Eircom said that Mr O'Riordan was part of a four-man sub-contracting crew working for KN Networks on behalf of Eircom. "Eircom extends its deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased, who is a former Eircom employee."
Meanwhile, the Defence Forces have placed 400 soldiers on 24-hour standby nationwide to help combat further storm chaos.
ESB Networks crews resumed work today to restore services to the remainder of the 25,000 households still without power.
By this evening under 20,000 customers will remain without electricity supply.
The company restored supply to over 35,000 customers overnight.
It said additional crews will be redeployed today from areas where power supplies have been restored in recent days to the worst affected areas, including Tralee, Newcastlewest, Fermoy, Dunmanway, Killarney, Bandon and Waterford.
The latest estimates of when electricity supplies will be restored to towns and villages around the country can be found at: http://updatesfromesb.com/
At a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Committee committee over the weekend, concerns were raised about fatigue for primary responders to the crisis.
The army's role in helping to fight the storm's after-effects has included at least one major evacuation along with the transport of medical equipment and logistical support.
On Friday, the Defence Forces were called in to evacuate five families from the Ardrahan area of Galway after they became trapped in their homes.
A Defence Forces spokesman said: "We have people on standby, who are ready to get to areas at short notice. We have high clearance vehicles and water pumps for the flooding."
Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke told the Sunday Independent that the weather would return to normal for this time of year in the coming days.
But he warned: "The combination of the weather we have already had, and the chance of above-normal rainfalls in the coming days, means there is still a risk of flooding."
Homes and businesses across the length and breadth of the country have been hit by power outages, with Wicklow, Limerick, Cork, Kerry and Tipperary among the worst-hit areas.
It emerged over the weekend that it will take at least two years for a permanent flood defence to be constructed in the St Mary's Park area in Limerick city, where more than 200 homes were left destroyed after the River Shannon burst its banks.
Much of the estate was under five feet of water after the river came over the top of previous flood defences erected by Limerick City Council.
* IN THE UK the latest severe storms have claimed two lives. A female minicab driver died when part of a building collapsed on to a car in central London. Mother-of-three Julie Sillitoe, 49, was killed after large chunks of masonry fell on to her Skoda Octavia on Friday night. Her passengers, a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, were yesterday being treated in hospital.
An 85-year-old man died after the 22,000-tonne Marco Polo cruise ship was hit by a freak wave in the English Channel on Friday.
LUKE BYRNE, SARAH McCABE and DAVID RALEIGH