Storm Ophelia: About 78,000 remain without power

Yellow weather warning issued while 25,000 go without water

Workers in Kilcock, Ireland, clear fallen power lines after Hurricane Ophelia battered Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Workers in Kilcock, Ireland, clear fallen power lines after Hurricane Ophelia battered Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Emergency responders across the country working to restore electricity say it could be next Tuesday before power is restored to all in the wake of Storm Ophelia.

ESB networks said 78,000 homes and businesses remain without power as of 8.30pm on Wednesday evening. Some 5,700 faults have been identified on the network with the south of the country worst affected. It hopes power will be restored to 90 per cent of customers by Saturday.

The numbers without water, which early on Wednesday stood at 48,000 had been reduced to 25,000 by 4pm. The affected counties are Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford and Cork.

Most schools reopened on Wednesday with the exception of 40 schools where issues, mainly problems with roofs have been identified and are currently been accessed.

An estimated 60,000 Eir customers still remain without telephone and broadband services across the country.

“There are over 1,000 different locations across the country where we have sustained network damage. The scale of the damage ranges from a single pole, up to 18 poles and two kilometres of cables along one section of road,” a spokeswoman said.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) confirmed at a briefing on Wednesday evening that while a yellow weather warning will be in place from Thursday until midnight on Saturday it has no “big” or “immediate” concerns about it.

Gusts of wind of up to 110km/h are possible especially along coastlines.

It has urged people to check in on neighbours who might be without power and water for a number of days yet.

Chairman of the National Emergency Coordination Committee, Sean Hogan said as time moves on from Storm Ophelia, people are showing great solidarity.

He said the south of the country remained the worst affected with crews working into the night to restore services.

“We are now into the second day of the clean-up and restoration phase. Huge progress was made on Tuesday with local authorities’ right across the country clearing road obstructions.

“Even those with the worst damage in the south and south-east cleared up to 95 per cent of blockages. As a country we have faced a huge challenge to restore our critical infrastructure.

“The ESB are coming into the difficult stage now with every site having to be worked through. However, they are adding to the pool of specialist staff working in the field with some 250 people arriving under their mutual assistance programme. Likewise Irish Water have made huge progress in the past 36 hours,” said Mr Hogan.

Senan Colleran from the ESB network said that every effort was being made to restore power to customers still without electricity.

“There is a huge task ahead of us to restore power to those customers. There are currently 5,700 faults in that system,” he said. Landowners have been warned not to cut up trees which may have live wires in them.

The Air Corps have been assisting ESB Networks by providing helicopters in identifying further locations along the network where faults may have arisen. The Defence Forces have also been tasked with clearing hard to reach areas where faults have been identified.

Boil water notices

A number of boil water notices have been put in place in Co Waterford. It may take a number of days to restore full water supplies to all.

“Irish Water can report excellent progress in the past 24 hours in terms of restoring water,” said Jerry Grant, head of Irish Water.

“We still have about 25,000 people without water and this number continues to drop on the hour. We are supporting about 90,000 people with generators and will be increasing this number.”

Mr Grant said that they were in contact with about 500 “vulnerable” customers left without water.

Meanwhile the funeral arrangements of Michael Pyke who was one of three people who lost their lives during storm Ophelia have been announced.

Mr Pyke of St Joseph’s Avenue, Ardfinnan, Co Tipperary, died on Monday afternoon when he was clearing trees during the storm.

The 31-year-old’s funeral mass takes place on Thursday at the Church of the Holy Family, Ardfinnan, at 11am.

The funeral of Fintan Goss who died after a falling tree hit his car in Dundalk, Co Louth is due to take place on Saturday.

Forecast

Widespread mist, fog and drizzle is forecast for Wednesday evening which will give way to a spell of heavy and possibly thundery rain.

The rain is expected to arrive on the west coast before midnight and move slowly across the country, arriving in the east on Thursday morning. Lowest temperatures will be between eight and 11 degrees.

Wet and windy weather is expected to develop on the southwest coast on Friday afternoon and evening.

Current indications show strong gale force winds at sea and gusty winds overland on Friday night. The strong winds will be accompanied by heavy rain, bringing a risk of local flooding.

Temperatures will range between 12 and 14 degrees on Friday afternoon.

Strong and gusty winds are forecast for Saturday, most especially at the coasts. The winds will be accompanied by heavy, possibly thundery showery rain.

Met Éireann meteorologist Joanna Donnelly said an Atlantic depression is developing and will move towards Ireland over the weekend. If it develops into a storm, it would be called Storm Brian.

“It is currently unnamed, there is currently a naming protocol in place between the Met Office in the UK and Met Éireann. We collaborate by examining all of the latest information available to us,” Ms Donnelly said.

“Once the winds reach a certain category, a decision is made whether to name or not name and so far with current information, this Atlantic Depression remains unnamed. That could change with future developments.”

Tree nursery

Meanwhile the manager of a tree nursery in Tipperary has spoken of the devastation caused by Storm Ophelia to their business.

Grainne Murphy of Annaveigh Plants, New Inn, said prior to the storm they had about 70 acres planted with around 150,000 trees in a variety of stages ranging from small to large. “When the wind died down we walked the land and we were on the verge of tears. Many of the trees were broken in half. Sixty per cent of some species are completely gone.”

She told RTÉ’s News at One it will take the company which is a wholesaler to landscapers and local authorities, years to recover.

She also told of how they will have to replace between 10,000 and 15,000 individual bamboo canes which are used to support young trees. “They will have to be replaced and retied. It is a very labour intensive job and quite skilled.”

Ms Murphy added that global warming is having an impact on their business. They had noticed significant changes in rainfall patterns and could not carry out seasonal planting in September because the ground was so wet. “The impact is drastic.”