‘Major emergency’ for Kilkenny stood down as roads reopen

Fallen trees, blocked roads, overturned trucks as weather wreaks havoc in southeast

Handout satellite image issued that shows the scale of the storm. Photograph: NEODASS/University of Dundee/PA Wire

Handout satellite image issued that shows the scale of the storm. Photograph: NEODASS/University of Dundee/PA Wire

Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 19:46

Gardaí stood down a “major emergency” for Kilkenny after 7pm tonight as main routes reopened after a major storm.

“All inter urban routes to and from Kilkenny city are now open however caution is still advised,” the Garda said.

Fallen trees, blocked roads, damaged roofs, closed schools and overturned trucks were just some of the features of today’s storm across the southeast which wreaked havoc in most areas.

Kilkenny’s city and county manager invoked the major emergency plan earlier today as Storm Darwin progressed from the southwest over the southern half of the country, with all emergency services called up to reply to incidents.

Top gardaí including Superintendent Pascal Connolly as well as the county manager Joe Crockett and HSE officials held a meeting this afternoon to discuss their response to the crisis. Priority was given to clearing access routes to St Luke’s General Hospital.

There were dozens of wind-related incidents in Kilkenny city alone, with trees down on many roads and in the Castle Park, entire sections of the ring road blocked at different times and traffic diversions bringing motorists away from high-risk or blocked routes.

Among the impassable roads in Kilkenny city were College Road, Castle Road, the Dublin Road close to McDonagh Junction shopping centre, Green Street, and Freshford Road.

Nowlan Park, Kilkenny’s GAA headquarters, was closed because of damage to parts of the stand roof, with senior hurling training cancelled for Brian Cody’s team.

Meanwhile, in New Ross the Good Counsel secondary school had to be evacuated in the afternoon after part of the roof from the nearby Apex swimming pool blew off and landed close to the school building.

Gardaí were at the scene to help over 700 pupils and staff proceed from the school building to the Tesco car-park where parents were called to collect the students.

In Waterford, two large trees fell on the road between the city and Dunmore East, blocking access to the village in the afternoon, while Carriganore House on Waterford Institute of Technology’s western campus was evacuated because of slates falling from the roof. The building is home to RTÉ’s southeast studio. Waterford Institute of Technology’s main campus was also shut, with staff and students asked to leave, and all full-time and part-time courses postponed for the evening.

Carlow IT took a similar measure, with all night classes cancelled. Gardaí closed off O’Connell Street in Waterford’s city centre after some slates were blown off buildings in the area, while trees were down between Tramore and Waterford city and in other locations around Waterford, including Paddy Brown’s Road near the Cork Road and at Church Street in Tramore.

A gust of wind of 104km/h, the highest of the day in the area, was recorded at the Waterford city weather station.

The main N25 Cork Road between Waterford and Dungarvan was blocked for some time after a large tree fell across the route, and a tree also fell at Mahon Bridge on the R676 road between Dungarvan and Carrick-on-Suir.

Two trucks overturned separately on the M8, near junction 9 outside Cashel, blocking the motorway for some time, while roads were also blocked between Fethard and Clonmel in south Tipperary, on the Dungarvan Road outside Clonmel and close to New Inn because of fallen trees.

County councils in both South Tipperary and North Tipperary said they would try clear trees from as many main routes as possible but warned that not all roads would be passable by tomorrow.

Sporting events are among the casualties of the weather, with today’s race meeting in Clonmel and today’s in Thurles being cancelled; while a public training session due to be taken by the high-flying Irish rugby team in Clonmel tomorrow also called off. Thousands of schoolchildren from the area were due to attend and get autographs and photos with the international players.

Thousands of homes and businesses were left without power across the region, including in parts of Waterford city, Kilkenny city, Carlow town, Thomastown, Bagenalstown, Tramore, and other towns and villages.

Many public buildings, shops and other businesses closed early in the afternoon while gardaí advised people to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.