Coastal towns at risk of further flooding as wind warning issued

Met Éireann warns of gale force winds, heavy rain and sleet throughout the morning

The post-storm Eleanor clean-up continues in Salthill, Galway as Met Éireann issues a nationwide yellow wind warning, putting towns along the south and west coasts at risk of further flooding. Video: Joe O'Shaughnessy

 

A yellow wind warning remains in effect across the country on Thursday, with towns along the south and west coasts at risk of further flooding. Met Éireann has warned of gale force winds and heavy rain and sleet throughout the morning.

Power has been restored to about 148,000 homes and businesses in the aftermath of Storm Eleanor.

ESB Networks has said that as of 5pm Wednesday, 2,000 customers who lost supply during Tuesday night’s storm remain without power but its crews are continuing to make repairs.

On Wednesday, high winds and lightning, mainly in the mid-west of the country, resulted in a further 4,500 homes, farms and businesses losing power, it said.

However, with further high winds expected on Wednesday night and into Thursday, more power outages are anticipated. ESB Powercheck shows clusters of service interruptions across the country.

NIE Networks confirmed around 400 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland remain without power following Storm Eleanor. Emergency crews have been working to restore power to over 25,000 properties.

Roads near Kenmare in the south west are blocked this morning by heavy flooding and fallen trees. The Tralee town area is also affected with heavy flooding from Blenerville to Tralee.

The N71 road near the Suspension bridge at Kenmare is impassable at the town side and a tree is blocking the Kenmare to Glengarriff section of the national route at Sheen Falls, south of the bridge.

There is flooding also on roads near Listowel and in the coast near Ballyheigue, and over 100 customers are without electricity in south and mid-Kerry. The road to the golf club at Baile an Fheirtéaraigh is again blocked by flooding and there are large branches down in minor roads in west and south Kerry.

On the N22, the main Killarney to Macroom road is blocked by a fallen tree on the Macroom side.

Sandbags had been distributed by the council and civil defence in coastal areas and in Tralee early yesterday.

The council in Kerry this morning warned motorists to watch out for debris and to drive slowly as winds are expected to remain very strong.

Cork appears to have escaped the worst of this morning’s storm amid fears that a combination of strong winds and high tides could lead to flooding in the city and some coastal towns in the county.

It was feared that with winds forecast to gust as high as 110kph and high tides due in the city just before 7am that it could lead to flooding in low lying areas of Cork city. However a Garda spokesman at Anglesea Street Garda Station said high tide passed off without any major incident with some surface water flooding in low-lying quay areas.

The storm did cause some problems at Cork Airport with departure flights to Malaga and London Stansted have been delayed while incoming flights from Amsterdam were cancelled.

Preparations

The Government’s National Emergency Coordination Group met on Wednesday morning to discuss the impact of Storm Eleanor, which led to flooding in parts of Galway, Cork and Limerick and left thousands without power.

Seán Hogan, chair of the group, said there was “unfortunately still some threats coming towards us”, with the south and west coasts most at risk.

“Towns along the south and west coast remain at risk because of the arrival of strong winds allied with the high tides,” he said. “That, allied with a particular wind direction and wave conditions like what happened in Galway Bay yesterday, poses a real threat of further flooding along the south and west coast.”

Mr Hogan said adequate warning had been given to local authorities in relation to Storm Eleanor, but there were always limitations as storms can change direction. “What was a surprise is the extent of what happened in Galway and the speed at which that happened,” he added.

Mr Hogan urged members of the public living in towns along the south and west coasts to “keep away from the coastline if you don’t need to be there”.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said there was adequate preparation and planning for Storm Eleanor.

“We have very sophisticated modelling techniques to look at different storm events as they come in. But we can’t predict all the vagaries of weather, and sometimes things will happen that weren’t predicted in the models.”

Mr Murphy said warnings were given to each of the local authorities by his department and Met Éireann.

“The local authorities then work based on the warnings that they are given. Sometimes we won’t be able to predict everything that has happened and very unfortunately a number of businesses have been hit in Galway.”

Mr Murphy said emergency schemes are being rolled out to help affected people get “back on their feet”.

A Fine Gael councilor in Galway however claims that Galway County Council did not take the storm warnings seriously earlier this week.

Cllr Padraig Conneely told Newstalk Breakfast that although the National Emergency Operations Centre had notified local authorities around the country earlier on Tuesday, Galway City and County Council ‘didn’t take it seriously.’

“I didn’t see any emergency services or any sandbags. It was 10pm before they came out with sandbags. That was too late. They were needed at 5pm.

“Why wasn’t the army there? They are good at this sort of thing.”

Cllr Conneely said it was confusing for people. “Everyone was running around like headless chickens.”

Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe announced the provision of a humanitarian flooding scheme to provide emergency assistance for small businesses, sports clubs and community organisations which were unable to secure flood insurance but which have been affected by flooding due to Storm Eleanor.

The scheme will be administered by the Irish Red Cross, with details due to be made available on their website.