Wednesday 23 May 2018

Taoiseach 'didn't mean to cause alarm' - but insists it's a 'definite possibility' people could be 'found dead' after Storm Emma

  • 'It is a definite possibility that people could be found dead in their homes after Storm Emma' - Taoiseach
  • 'We felt the full force of Mother Nature in recent days'
  • No estimate for damage costs yet
  • Appeal for people to 'avoid A&Es if possible' in coming days
  • Emergency funding to get the country back on track 'is not budget-capped'
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Wexford Council building where the Emergency Group meets on the weather situation in Co. Wexford. Pictured with the Taoiseach is Minister Paul Kehoe TD and Frank Byrne Wexford Co. Council mapping section. Picture: Patrick Browne
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Wexford Council building where the Emergency Group meets on the weather situation in Co. Wexford. Pictured with the Taoiseach is Minister Paul Kehoe TD and Frank Byrne Wexford Co. Council mapping section. Picture: Patrick Browne
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar "didn't mean to cause any undue alarm" with his comments, but insisted it is a "definite possibility" that people "could be found dead in their homes" after Storm Emma.

Speaking this morning, the Taoiseach stood behind his comments during a visit to snow-covered Wexford yesterday, when he said he was fearful of people being found dead in their homes in isolated areas in the coming days.

"That's my fear," he told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland.

"I didn't mean to cause any undue alarm, but it is a definite possibility in the days ahead, in the coming days as we gain access to homes in some of the areas that were cut off.

"We did have a number of fatalities in the last couple of days," Mr Varadkar continued.

"It is not possible to say whether those unfortunate deaths would have happened anyway, but it is a possibility that they mightn't have if it wasn't for the weather.

Therese Eagers digs a pathway through the snow in her back garden in Rathcoole. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Therese Eagers digs a pathway through the snow in her back garden in Rathcoole. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Sallins Friday morning (Picture: James Lawless)
Donadea Co Kildare (Picture: David Irwan)
Sallins (Picture: James Lawless)
James and Gemma Kavanagh practice their snow angels on Main street, Arklow, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Garry O'Neill
Snow drifts on the Fagan Farm in Gartlandstown, Co Westmeath. Photo: John Fagan
Rathcoole on Friday morning Picture: Eileen Mooney
Sallins Friday morning (picture: James Lawless)
Very heavy snow in Kilmuckridge Co.Wexford. Photo: Derek Vaughan
Photos of snow drift on roads Kildare this morning Photo: Niall Sargent
Walkers in the snow on the Curragh in Co Kildare: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Blessington in Co Wicklow. Photo: Teresa Nagle
Blessington in Co Wicklow. Photo: Teresa Nagle
Wexford main street. Photo: Joey Cleary
Snowed in road in Donadea Co. Kildare. Photo: Gillian Flynn
Footpaths are cleared in Kildare Town, Co Kildare: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"We felt the full force of Mother Nature in recent days, it was the worst snow storm in 35 years.

"And while people are back at work today, it will take days before things get back to normal, especially in Wexford, Kildare and Wicklow."

Speaking about emergency funding for people and businesses after the storm, the Taoiseach said the Government do not have an estimate for the damage or emergency funding yet, but said it usually takes a couple of weeks to assess the cost of the same.

"As is always the case, local authorities will require additional allocation to repair the roads, yes, they will get it, it will be properly assessed," the Taoiseach said.

Dagmara Jakkububowicz from Carrigaline walks her dog Bubu around the pond in the Community Park in Carrigaline Co. Cork.- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Dagmara Jakkububowicz from Carrigaline walks her dog Bubu around the pond in the Community Park in Carrigaline Co. Cork.- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
A Robin is seen with snow on its beak in Dublin. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A woman and her dog enjoy the snow near Dublin, as storm Emma, rolling in from the Atlantic, looks poised to meet the Beast from the East's chilly Russia air - causing further widespread snowfall and bitter temperatures. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Liam Mulcahy pictured at the Forty Foot Sandycove, County Dublin this morning .Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Women take pictures of a statue of horses that is frozen over in the city centre of Dublin. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Walkers in the snow on the Curragh in Co Kildare: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Snow scenes at Portarlington Train station Pic Collins Photos
Keith Vaughan and Caoimhe Banks out for a walk with their Great Dames, Taz and Odin in Lusk, North County Dublin during Storm Emma. Photo :Mark Condren
Ethan Gray, Tom Eagers, 2, Olivia Gray, 7 and Caroline Gray, enjoying the snow in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eager
Mary Nee enjoying the sunny but cold Salthill Seaside in Galway during Storm Emma and the cold snap. Photo:Andrew Downes, XPOSURE .
Emaan Ahmad (3) from Limerick waiting who travelled from Limerick to greet her father Shakeel at Dublin Airport. Pic:Mark Condren
Pictured at Ballygarvan, Co Wexford during the snow and blizzard conditions this morning. The only way to travel is on a quad bike, pictured is Mark Kehoe and Billy O'Niell. Picture: Patrick Browne
Sienna Collns (3) having fun in the snow in Clondalkin, Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
An Asian Elephant enjoys the snow at Dublin Zoo. Photo: Dublin Zoo
Enjoying the snow in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

"We are asking people to conserve their water, the demand is high and the supply is low.

"In particular, we are asking people to be careful while they are walking and driving and doing repairs, people were much safer while they were indoors and we know from Storm Ophelia that many of the accidents and fatalities happened afterwards while people did repairs.

"We're also asking people to avoid the A&Es and to use minor injury clinics.

"I think it will be a difficult week for hospitals - it will be more like the first week of the new year, rather than the first week of March."

He said he thinks it will take between seven and 10 days for health teams to make it through the backlog.

Funding

Mr Varadkar said the emergency funding to get the country back on track is not budget-capped and is a demand-led scheme.

"Once the assessment is done, additional resources will be provided by the Government," he said.

"The Department of Social Welfare have a whole team of community welfare people, if people need to contact them. There is a fund there and last year 100,000 people received emergency pay-outs.

"It is not budget-capped, it is a demand-led scheme. It's not money that runs out, it is not budget-capped, you don't need to be a social welfare recipient to apply, it is not means tested.

"So if someone has an urgent need, they can go to their community welfare officer."

The Taoiseach said he was also eager to thank the emergency services, organisations and charities that continued to work throughout Storm Emma to keep the country moving.

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