Friday 14 December 2018

Snow grinds town to a halt

Snowmageddon on first day of spring

Aerial photo of a snow covered Dundalk town centre last Wednesday morning
Aerial photo of a snow covered Dundalk town centre last Wednesday morning
Gritting in operation near Bush

Olivia Ryan

The first day of Spring saw the onset of the worst winter storm to hit Dundalk and the east coast for many years.

A nationwide red weather warning led to school closures, businesses and shops shut, courts and local authority buildings closed as the region ground to a halt.

Rail and bus services came to a standstill as the weather warning was extended from Thursday afternoon last until Friday evening.

The worst affected areas were the rural areas of Louth, with communities in Cooley, and mid Louth particularly affected.

A number of HSE ambulances were stranded in the north east, with one paramedic crew attempting to dig out the vehicle, before eventually being pulled from the snow by a local farmer.

The ESB confirmed a number of power outtages, 'around 1,000 premises in Drogheda, and smaller pockets in Ardee in Cooley.' A spokesman confirmed that attempts to restore electricity were hampered for a time by access issues.

Meanwhile, snowfall combined with high winds from Storm Emma even saw gritting being suspended for a time on Thursday last.

A spokesman for the local authority confirmed that Louth County Council were liaising with the HSE and An Garda Síochána under the 'Major Emergency Management' programme throughout the week.

'Louth County Council, through that structure led the management of assistance provision to all HSE services. Civil Defence, Irish Coastguard and Defence Forces were also tasked by the council to provide a variety of supports such as delivery of palliative and home care staff to patients and delivery of drugs in some cases.'

The spokesman for the local authority said there was, thankfully, 'a sense that the public took heed of the warning to stay indoors,' during the red weather warning.

'A significant effort was made to ensure that there was sufficient homeless bed-night capacity. An additional fourteen beds were provided above our normal hostel capacity. All service users were also encouraged to stay indoors for the period of the red alert.'

The Fire Service also responded to and dealt with a house fire in Dundalk. 'Damage was limited to a solid fuel burner and there were no injuries reported,' said the spokesman.

'The fire service has also responded to a tree and power line down in the Dunleer Area. The on call staff responded to and dealt with a fallen tree blocking the L3215 Hackballscoss to Forkhill Road.'

He said Louth County Council staff continued to monitor the weather conditions over the weekend and managed requests for assistance.

Gritting and clearing of footpaths resumed as the red weather alert came to an end.

The Argus