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Statement from the National Emergency Coordination Group on Severe Weather

Published on Wednesday, 03 Jan 2018
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Introduction

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is the Lead Government Department for co-ordinating the response to severe weather. The severe weather assessment team in the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management has been monitoring forecasts and warning updates from both Met Éireann and the OPW regarding Storm Eleanor and tidal conditions.  Local Authorities along the Western/ Atlantic coast received forecasts and updates regarding Storm Eleanor and activated their Local Coordination Groups and crisis management teams to consider the potential threats and to monitor the impact of the severe weather locally.

The Department liaised also with relevant agencies in disseminating public safety information messages through broadcast and various social media.

The Department convened a National Emergency Coordination Group meeting at 10.30 this morning, attended by Minster Eoghan Murphy, TD and Minister Denis Naughten, TD and chaired by the Department’s National Director for Fire and Emergency Management, Seán Hogan. The NECG is attended by all Government Departments and relevant agencies and reviewed the impact of Storm Eleanor and the coordination and support measures to underpin the local response. The weather is expected to continue in an unstable pattern with high winds over the next few days. Allied with expected high tides, there remains potential for flooding along the South and West coasts. The Department’s severe weather assessment team continues to monitor the evolving weather situation with both Met Éireann and the OPW. The public are advised to monitor weather forecasts and local information.

Weather

Met Eireann issued an Orange level wind warning at 05.00 on 2 January 2018 in relation to Storm Eleanor, the warning was in effect from from 4pm to 9pm, covering Munster, Leinster and Galway with an orange warning, with a yellow warning for the rest of the country.

Eleanor was anticipated to be a fast moving storm with expected wind speeds of 65 -80 Km/h, gusting from 110 to 130 Km/h in the Orange warning areas, with 55 -65 Km/h Gusting to 90 -110 Km/H in Yellow warning areas, this depression classed as a steering (Parent low) was expected to affect Western Atlantic Counties between 16.00 – 21.00 with its exact path uncertain. An updated Orange warning (Wind) was issued by Met Éireann for Connacht, Cavan and Monaghan at 19.00 to take effect from 19.00.

High seas with strong south west/west winds had been expected associated with the depression on Atlantic coasts, with the possibility of the storm surge allied with high tides causing coastal damage. The OPW has indicated that the tidal levels are currently at High Astronomical levels, with the possibility of overtopping and localised coastal flooding in Atlantic counties over the next two days of high tides.

Rainfall amounts were predicted to be between 10-20mm countrywide with Galway and Donegal possibly receiving amounts of 25-30mm in what is described as packing showers.

It was expected that all parts of the country would experience high winds (including Orange warning levels) for short periods over 24 hours starting on the 2 January.  There is another system of low pressure moving towards Ireland which is expected Wednesday into Thursday which is being monitored by Met Éireann.

OPW

A high tide advisory was issued on Tuesday at 11.46 A.M to all coastal Local Authorities. The OPW advisory detailed a period of very high astronomical spring tides approaching their Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT) in all coastal areas at 2 P.M on Tuesday the 2 January. The high tide levels were exacerbated by a high storm surge coupled with a severe onshore wind. Tides will be high at HAT levels over the coming days.

Local Authority Response to Flooding in Galway

The staff of Galway City Local Authority worked with An Garda Síochána, its fire service and assisted by Civil Defence and the Defence Forces to manage the impact of the sudden and devastating flooding which occurred at the high tide on Tuesday evening. The conditions, with strong onshore winds, high seas and a higher than predicted storm surge bypassed the temporary flood defences that were in place. They have been assisting those affected, including providing additional sandbags in light of the ongoing flooding threat. Skips and other facilities are being provided with direct assistance in the clean-up.

ESB Networks

Overall 150,000 homes, farms and businesses suffered a loss in electricity supply as a result of Storm Eleanor yesterday evening, predominantly in counties Mayo, Leitrim, Sligo, Galway, Cavan and Monaghan. ESB teams have been working in difficult conditions last night and this morning to restore power to 134,000 customers. As of 12 noon today, 16,000 customers who lost supply last night remain without power. ESB Networks is hopeful that all customers who lost power as a result of Storm Eleanor last night will have their power restored by tonight.  High winds and lightning, mainly in the North-west, has resulted in more outages earlier this morning, with a further 5,000 customers without power as a result.

ESB Networks teams from less impacted areas of the country have travelled and are deploying to help their colleagues in the worst impacted areas.  With high winds forecast again for tomorrow, further outages can be expected and we wish to remind members of the public to remain alert to damage to the electricity network.  An Important Public Safety Message:

  • Never touch or approach fallen wires. Report damage to the electricity network on 1850 372 999

If you come across fallen wires or damaged electricity network, never, ever touch or approach these as they are LIVE and extremely dangerous. Please report any damage to electricity infrastructure by calling 1850 372 999. Real time information on power outages and restoration times is available on the PowerCheck App or www.esbpowercheck.ie, with further information available at:  https://www.esbnetworks.ie/power-outages-updates/latest-updates

If your fault is not logged please report it at https://www.esbnetworks.ie/power-outages-updates/report-a-power-outage or on 1850 372 999. Customers should have their MPRN available to access recorded information specific to their location.  You can also check @ESBNetworks on Twitter for updates.

Irish Water

West/North West: Total estimate 700+ customers without water

1 critical – Kiltimagh – running on generator and outlying areas not being reached - potentially 300 customers without supply while 1200 restored (TBC). Potentially full power by Thursday morning,  so continuing with generator till then.

(TBC power restored) Togan in Monaghan 200-300 customers affected – to be reviewed for alternative water supply if power not restored by 5pm. Outage only from 12.00 noon today.

Leitrim 100 customers affected in rural areas but power being restored – Alternative water supplies to be provided if outage extends beyond 5.00pm

2 schemes without water in South Sligo and Kilsellagh, Sligo  (55 + 27 customers respectively) – potential alternative water supplies to be provided if outage extends beyond 5.00pm

South – remaining issues:

Cork - Glengarriff - technical issue with dosing pumps control, but power restored

Kerry - Lyranes – power due back at 2:30pm (TBC)

Limerick - Croagh – wastewater pumping station without power

Transport

Minor transport disruption was reported to road, rail and air travel. Ferry crossings on the Irish Sea have been affected with rescheduling taking place. Check with your ferry company before travelling.

DEASP Humanitarian Assistance Scheme

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has activated its Humanitarian Assistance Scheme which is available to assist people whose homes are damaged by flooding and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair. (The scheme is means tested and assistance is not provided for losses which are covered by insurance or for commercial and business losses.) People and families in need of assistance are being advised to visit the local Intreo Centre where Community Welfare Service Teams will assist them. Further information is available on the Department’s web site.

Staff from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are available from early this morning (Wednesday, 3 January) to support householders in areas affected by Storm Eleanor. The Department’s Community Welfare Services staff are engaging with local authorities and will quickly assess the level of service required across the country, particularly in the Galway area. This interagency response ensures that supports will be provided to those affected as swiftly as possible. As the clean-up operations begin, financial supports will be made available to householders affected and the Humanitarian Assistance scheme activated as necessary.

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD has said "we are on standby to help anyone whose homes may have been affected by the flooding. Staff from the Department will be available to support those in the affected areas tomorrow morning and we are ready to activate the HAID at anytime should residential properties have been damaged from extreme weather today. I would urge families and individuals in need of assistance to contact their local Intreo Centre where our Community Welfare Service Teams are available to assist them."

Irish Red Cross

The Irish Red Cross has also activated its humanitarian scheme to assist small businesses as well as community, voluntary and sporting bodies who have been affected by the recent severe weather. The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, has announced the provision of a humanitarian flooding scheme to provide emergency assistance for small businesses (up to 20 employees), sports clubs and community organisations, unable to secure flood insurance, which have been affected by flooding as a result of Storm Eleanor.

Similar to previous flooding incidents, the scheme will be administered by the Irish Red Cross with the details being made available on their website shortly. Minister Kehoe said “The Government has moved to have this scheme operational as quickly as possible and in a manner which is designed to be straight forward to best assist those who have been affected. The Irish Red Cross will administer and make payments under the scheme.” The scheme is a humanitarian support contribution towards the costs of returning business, sport and community premises to their pre-flood condition including the replacement of flooring, fixtures and fittings and damaged stock where relevant. The scheme will not provide a contribution to loss of earnings or loss of business good-will. Minister Kehoe stated that “My thoughts are with the people who are suffering as a result of this flooding event.  The humanitarian scheme will go some way to alleviating the hardship suffered by small businesses, sports clubs and community organisations, who have been refused flood insurance, and assist them in getting back up and running”.

Key Public Safety & Information Messages

  • To remind people that the weather continues to be stormy and unsettled with with very hazardous conditions in coastal areas, people are advised to heed local conditions and to stay away from exposed coastal areas during periods of high wind for the remainder of the week, particularly piers, harbours and cliffs.
     
  • ESB Networks is reminding customers of the precautionary measures to take in the event of a power cut. Never approach broken lines or damaged poles, and keep children and animals away – report damage to ESB Networks at 1850 372 999 and listen to recorded messages carefully;
     
    • Turn off electric cookers, ovens, irons, etc. if electricity supply is lost
    • Leave a light switched on so you know when power has been restored
    • Take extra care if using candles, oil lamps or other naked flames
    • Test smoke alarms with fresh batteries
    • Ensure adequate ventilation if using gas heaters

View ESB Networks' video on preparing for an outage during a storm at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf8uhiZM900

  • People are reminded of the hazards of operating chainsaws and other machinery and equipment when clearing trees and debris and working at heights especially in windy conditions. People should avoid taking any unnecessary risks when clearing debris;
  • Storm water can lead to contamination of ground water systems in flooded areas, which can affect private water supplies and wells.  People should ensure that the water from private supplies is safe to drink.
  • Driving conditions will remain hazardous across the country due to debris and motorists should exercise caution appropriate to road conditions.

ENDS