Statement from the National Emergency Coordination Group on Severe Weather - 3.30pm

Published on Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017
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Response operation underway and progress to date

Over 3,000 local authority staff, across many disciplines including fire services, roads staff, engineers and health and safety officers, are currently on the ground across the country assisting in the clean up and recovery efforts. Council crews have been out overnight and since daylight clearing roads, ensuring business continuity and access for the public.

An assessment of damage to public infrastructure is ongoing and will be made available in the coming days.

2,500 ESB Networks staff are on the ground, supported by approximately 1,000 contractors, working across 5,500 locations to make the network safe and restore power as soon as possible. They have been joined by crews from Northern Ireland, with further support due from Scotland England and Wales.

170,000 customers have had their power restored since yesterday.

Irish Water has restored to supply to 45,000 people since this morning and those at risk of losing supply has been reduced by 100,000.

Most public transport operators are back up and running, with some slight delays and cancellations. LUAS services will resume tomorrow morning at 5.30 a.m.

All airports and ferry services are fully operational today, with a small number of cancellations. Passengers intending to travel are advised to check operators’ websites.

All schools are to reopen tomorrow, subject to local issues.

Key Public Safety & Information Messages

  • ESB Networks is highlighting the dangers posed by fallen live wires and is advising the public and the emergency services to stay away from these fallen cables and to report such cases to it immediately. ESB Emergency Services can be contacted at 1850 372 999.
  • Power outages have occurred countrywide with contingency planning activated by the ESB. While 170,000 customers have been reconnected since yesterday, approximately 216,000 homes and businesses remain without power. All customers will receive an estimated time for the restoration of their supply by tomorrow, they can also check on their individual situation using the Power Check app. Cork, Tipperary and Kerry have been worst affected, and it is anticipated that it will be early next week before power is fully restored to a small number of customers in these areas.
  • Local authorities have activated full deployment of outdoor crews who are working to remove trees and other obstacles blocking roads across the country. National and regional routes are being prioritised. Today, local authorities will begin to assess damage caused to dwellings and other buildings/ structures, coastal infrastructure, parks and amenities.
  • Health services will gradually return to normal over the next few days, however some continued disruption is likely. Clients can expect some delays in their appointments and discharges from hospitals. The HSE will contact clients whose appointments have been cancelled to reschedule them as soon as possible.
  • It is expected that both Emergency Departments and GP clinics will be very busy over the next few days, with increased demands on those services.
  • Insurance Ireland has today issued a statement which clarifies matters regarding possible insurance claims. Householders have been advised to check the full extent of their policies, and contact their insurer or broker for further information. The Insurance Ireland statement is available from:

http://www.insuranceireland.eu/news-and-publications/news-press-release/insurance-ireland-statement-safety-first-motor-and-home-insurance-policies

Note for Editors

Report of the National Emergency Coordination Group Meeting

The National Emergency Coordination Group met again today (17 October 2017) to assess issues in the aftermath of Storm Ophelia. Ministers Murphy and English were in attendance. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is designated as the Lead Government Department for coordinating the response to severe weather emergencies at national level and chairs the National Emergency Coordination Group for Severe Weather.  A further meeting of the group is scheduled for 15.00 hours.

Local Government

The meeting received an update from the Local Government Sector, local authorities being the Lead Agency in the response to severe weather, detailing the current situation on the ground countrywide. All local authority Severe Weather Assessment Teams were activated in response to the Red Level Warning and have been actively monitoring the situation since.

Local authorities’ outdoor crews have been working to remove trees and other obstacles blocking roads across the country, prioritising national and regional routes, as conditions improved.

Today, local authorities will begin to assess damage caused to dwellings and other buildings/ structures, coastal infrastructure, parks and amenities.

The Local Government sector currently predicts it has the capacity and resources required to deal with the aftermath of Storm Ophelia.

Met Éireann

Met Éireann gave an update regarding the weather situation for the next 24 hour period.

ESB

At the peak of the storm the number of homes and businesses without supply was 380,000. By midday today this had reduced to 216,000. ESB Networks has currently identified 5,541 locations along its network requiring repair and has 1,600 technicians and 200 external contractors working today to carry out repairs at these locations. Crews from Northern Ireland, Scotland and France are expected Wednesday to assist ESB Networks in carrying out the repair work. The Air Corps has offered helicopters to ESB Networks to assist in identifying further locations along the network where faults may have arisen.

ESB Networks has created a priority list for restoration; these are the elderly and vulnerable, hospitals and people with medical needs, telecom providers and Irish Water sites. Efforts will be focused over the next 24 – 48 hours on restoring power to these prioritised customers. All customers will receive an estimated restoration time by tomorrow morning, and customers can check their personal fault situation with the aid of ESB’s Power Check app.

Further to the damage assessments received, ESB Networks is working towards restoring electricity to most customers within the next 3 - 4 days. Cork, Tipperary and Kerry have been worst affected, and it is anticipated that it will be early next week before power is fully restored to a small number of customers in these areas.

Transport

No major issues have been reported with most public transport services returning to normal today. There are some local disruptions to the road network, with all national routes open. Bus and rail travel is operating as normal with some local disruptions. Air and ferry travel is operating as normal with some cancellations. Check with your airline or ferry company before travelling. Luas is not operational today but is expected to return to normal tomorrow.

Schools

Schools will remain closed today, but are expected to reopen tomorrow pending an assessment of the buildings.

Defence Forces

Defence Forces personnel are on standby at a number of locations in the South and Mid West regions, and are already assisting some local authorities. The Defence Forces has a number of resources available if required, including engineering capabilities, transport support (4X4 High wheel base vehicles), pumping, clearing trees (chainsaw crews) and helicopters, which can be made available to local authorities on a priority basis, as requested.

Health

There was a significant impact on the vast majority of health and social care services due to Storm Ophelia. The HSE Crisis Management Team has been activated and each local area work as part of the Area Crisis Management Team in conjunction with the other Principal
Response Agencies. All hospital outpatient appointments were cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as possible. Community and Home Care Services, including visits from Public Health Nurses and Home Help Staff, were restricted to essential work. A number of Acute Hospitals, particularly in the south, were impacted by power failures and power was maintained by way of emergency generators. A number of health care facilities, including
hospitals suffered damage due to the storm conditions and this may impact on services. However, a full picture will only emerge as facilities are inspected today.

Health services will gradually return to normal over the next few days. Some disruption is likely over the coming days due to a number of factors including road conditions, building damage, power outages and disruption to full staffing levels. Clients can expect some delays in their appointments and discharges from hospitals over the next few days and the
HSE will contact clients whose appointments have been cancelled to reschedule them as soon as possible. Community services will focus the most vulnerable patients and clients in the first instance. It is intended to restore all acute hospital services over the coming days.

Urgent procedures will be prioritised, but it will be necessary to cancel some elective surgery. It is anticipated that outpatient services will be fully operational with a small number of exceptions. Following the significant disruption, it is expected that both Emergency Departments and GP clinics will be very busy over the next few days, with increased demands on those services.

Irish Water

Disruption to electricity supply has caused operational issues at a number of water treatment plants in the south of the country. As of 12:00 hours today, there are approximately 120,000 customers without water. The affected counties are:

  • Wexford
  • Kilkenny
  • Waterford
  • Cork

A priority list has been compiled and is currently with ESB Networks, who are working at full capacity to resolve the issues identified. Irish Water is currently looking at the possibility of getting portable generators to a number of sites, as a short interim measure, until power is restored.

ENDS