Sunday 20 October 2019

Thousands still without basic services

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Paul Melia Environment Editor

Almost 137,000 households and businesses are without power, another 48,000 have no water and 150,000 have no broadband or telephone service as emergency crews battle to restore basic services in the wake of Ophelia.

Some 2,500 ESB staff are on the ground, supported by 1,000 contractors from Northern Ireland with more due from Scotland, England and Wales, to restore power and make the network safe across 5,500 locations with supply returning to some 170,000 customers since the storm hit on Monday.

The National Emergency Co-Ordination Group on Severe Weather said that while all customers will receive an estimated time for the restoration of their supply by today, it could be early next week before it is restored to homeowners in parts of Cork, Tipperary and Kerry, which were the worst affected.

Some 114,000 of the total affected are in Cork and Kerry, with most damage caused by trees and timber falling onto power lines.

Irish Water said it was working to restore water and secure supply for customers. Some 69,000 households had no supply at tea-time yesterday, however, by last night this had fallen to 48,000.

Loss of power to treatment plants and pumping stations, coupled with pipeline bursts and damage to facilities, has resulted in major affects across the network, particularly in the south. Some 100,000 remain at risk of losing supply, because stored supplies are running out.

"ESB Networks has been working on several of these schemes and we are confident that these numbers will be significantly reduced in the coming hours," Irish Water said. "In many other schemes, generators are maintaining power supply pending full restoration of mains service."

Some 16 generators have been put in place at drinking water plants, with 23 more being deployed which will help restore supply. Water tankers are also being deployed, but pollution risks have emerged.

"We have a number of wastewater treatment plants and a significant number of sewage pumping stations where power failure is resulting in discharge of untreated or partially treated wastewater to receiving waters.

"As with drinking water, the number of installations affected is being reduced as power supplies are restored.

"We currently estimate that approximately 30 wastewater treatment plants are without power nationally.

"Our focus now is to get these plants fully operational as soon as possible."

More than 3,000 local authority staff remain on the ground assisting in clean-up efforts. Eir said that 150,000 customers had no service. Of these, 51,000 are in Cork.

It has 1,200 staff working on repairs.

Irish Independent

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