Saturday 15 December 2018

Storm Emma hits Fingal with rage in dramatic week

The county is slowly getting back to normal after a week that saw Storm Emma and The Beast from East conspire to lock us up in our homes, stop the water flowing and cut electricity.

There was not a corner of Fingal unaffected by the ravages of the greatest snow storm the county has seen in over 35 years.

Water restrictions remain in place in much of the county but supply of water and electricity is now restored to most of the affected areas.

Coastal towns and villages as well as our rural villages were worst affected through the storm with the greatest accumulations of snow in rural areas on secondary roads and the coastal towns exposed to the high winds, high tides and storm surges served up by 'Emma'.

Fingal County Council began preparations for the incoming storm as far back as Friday, February 23 when they were put on alert by the Office for Emergency Planning. The council's Crisis Management Team and Severe Weather Assessment Team were placed on stand-by at that point as were key staff in different departments.

The roads that make up the council's seven normal salting routes were broken into two classifications, Priority 1and Priority 2. Priority 1 Routes are essential routes within Fingal which need to be kept open in all weather conditions while Priority 2 Routes include regional and local roads that are the principal traffic, bus and commuter routes serving the principal residential, commercial and industrial areas in Fingal. At a cumulative total of 650km, these roads represent 46 per cent of the total number of roads in the county.

The council's seven gritting trucks were fitted with snow ploughs and over the course of the week the council also deployed 14 JCBs, four front loaders, two teleporters and several tractors to assist in clearing blocked roads across the county.

On Monday and Tuesday, an additional 3,600 tonnes of salt was delivered to the Salt Barns at the council's depots in Coolmine and Swords

The Crisis Management Team, which is chaired by Chief Executive Paul Reid, had the first of its 10 meetings just before the first snow started falling on Tuesday evening and continued meeting, often by conference call, up until Sunday,

The Gritting crews began the battle on Tuesday evening to keep roads open and spread over 2,000 tonnes of salt on the roads up to Saturday before rising temperatures meant there was no need for further gritting only ploughing on Sunday and Monday.

Following the large snowfall on Thursday night, Friday morning, the task of clearing roads commenced at 9.30am and the gritting crews kept ploughing and salting through the day before their final run at 7pm. They were joined by other crews using JCBs, front loaders, teleporters and tractors who worked to ensure that entrances to key public buildings such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, garda stations were kept open.

The gritting crews were back on the roads at 7am on Saturday morning assisted by the other crews whose initial focus was ensuring that the various distribution centres located across Fingal had their access routes to the main roads cleared so that food supplies could be sent out to shops across the Greater Dublin region.

A further 80 operations staff were deployed from Saturday across Fingal to clear snow from pedestrian areas in towns and villages and, as the county began to start moving on Sunday, some crews had near misses from motorists 'driving recklessly' in their vicinity, according to the local authority.

The storm and high tide resulted in flooding in some areas and caused the closure of Estuary Road and Bissetts Strand Road in Malahide.

There were also issues with the high level of water usage and this led to low levels in reservoirs and restrictions having to be imposed in Balbriggan, Skerries, Lusk, Loughshinny and Naul.

The Mayor of Fingal and the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council have paid tribute to the work done by Council staff over the past week in response to the snow storms that hit the county since last Tuesday.

Cllr Mary Camley, Mayor of Fingal, said: 'I would like to thank Fingal County Council's staff and volunteers as well as the communities around Fingal who worked together to clear the roads, keep us informed of local issues and monitor the well-being of vulnerable residents.

I would especially like to commend our Operations Crews who worked tirelessly over the weekend to clear the roads to ensure Fingal residents could get back to work, school and college as quickly as possible. The overall response to Storm Emma has been a credit to our staff and the citizens of Fingal who displayed a genuine community spirit throughout.'

Fingal County Council Chief Executive Paul Reid said: 'Storm Emma presented Fingal with various problems such as burst mains, depleted reservoirs and blocked roads and paths. Our Operations, Water Services, Housing and Community and Corporate Affairs Departments have worked extremely hard since last Tuesday to ensure that residents were safe and able access roads as soon as possible.

'I am extremely proud of the staff and was delighted to receive so much positive feedback from residents and businesses. I would also like to thank the community volunteers who worked to clear roads and check in on vulnerable residents as well as our Crisis Management Team who oversaw the whole operation.'

Fingal Independent