Friday 22 June 2018

'The winds are fairly gusty again, but we have not stood down' - ESB crews continue to restore power to thousands

'Weather bomb' hampers Ophelia recovery efforts as 15,000 remain without electricity

EXPLORING THE DAMAGE: After a scary couple of days indoors Elsa (7) and Tom (5) Dollard and their dog from Centre Park Road, Cork inspect the fallout of Hurricane Ophelia including the downing of dozens of 100 year old trees. Photo: Mark Condren
EXPLORING THE DAMAGE: After a scary couple of days indoors Elsa (7) and Tom (5) Dollard and their dog from Centre Park Road, Cork inspect the fallout of Hurricane Ophelia including the downing of dozens of 100 year old trees. Photo: Mark Condren

Wayne O'Connor, Maeve Sheahan and David Raleigh

Strong winds and rain will continue to hit coastal parts of the country today in the wake of Atlantic Storm Brian which swept across the country yesterday.

Gale force winds and torrential rain hampered clean-up operations and work to restore electricity supplies lost after Hurricane Ophelia struck last Monday.

Areas in the west woke to rising waters yesterday with Limerick, Galway, Cork and Kerry hit by spot flooding. The storm forced road closures and warnings from Met Eireann and local authorities.

A yellow warning was in place until last night but conditions should improve today and help crews working to repair the damage done by Ophelia and Brian.

However last night the River Blackwater was in flood in Mallow, and it also broke its banks in Fermoy. Cork Co Council warned of possible road closures, adding that it is likely to be after lunchtime today before the waters peak in Fermoy.

Storm Brian brought significant rainfall and high winds, making for treacherous conditions in many rural areas. Gusts in excess of 100km/h were recorded in Cork, Clare and Galway. These hampered the massive operation to restore electricity to homes that have been without power since Ophelia struck last Monday.

Rough seas at Poolbeg during Storm Brian yesterday. Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Rough seas at Poolbeg during Storm Brian yesterday. Picture: Colin O'Riordan

The number without power last night was 15,000. While the figure is down from a peak of 385,000 after Hurricane Ophelia passed, they also included a number of power outages brought about by Storm Brian.

Denis Cambridge, ESB Network's south division manager, said: "We have several thousand additional affected customers overnight again. There are calls coming in from the south, the south west and the south east.

"The winds are fairly gusty again, but we have not stood down and are monitoring the situation hour by hour."

At least 3,500 ESB front-line repair staff remained deployed across the southern region this weekend, with an additional 1,000 staff offering logistical support. The army is still being deployed. The operation is one of the biggest power restoration efforts in ESB Network's history. The ESB was monitoring weather events last night and warned crews would be stood down if conditions worsened further.

Many of those without power were in coastal parts of Cork, Waterford and Wexford. ESB crews were also at work in rural parts of counties Tipperary and Clare last night.

Although Hurricane Ophelia threatened to unleash the worst damage in Limerick city last week, it was Brian's blast that had the biggest impact for some. A small number of houses close to the banks of the River Shannon were flooded. River swells breached flood defences at Clancy's Strand, making routes impassable for a few hours.

In Corbally, Tom Bolger could only look on as the River Shannon swept into his home.

"We got three inches of water in right across the house. It was the tide and the wind together that did it," Tom said.

"After it went out, we started to mop up. We've been flooded around five times since the 1970s. The worst was 2014 - there was 20 inches of water that time in the house."

Last night he faced an anxious wait with a second high tide due but a Limerick City and Co Council spokesman said they were not expecting any additional flooding during the second high tide. Across the river, the city centre survived the deluge as the Council's flood barriers and rows of sandbags held back the tide.

Merchant's Quay also flooded, as did the tax office at Sarsfield House. Council emergency workers, however, reacted quickly, pumping out muddy flood waters.

Ambulance paramedics, gardai, as well as divers from Limerick Marine Search and Rescue Service and local firefighters responded to a call of a person in trouble in the river, only to discover two kayakers who told them they did not require any assistance.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News