Storm Brian ‘just a run of the mill storm,’ says Hogan

Director of emergency planning says predicted weather conditions ‘not exceptional’

Council workers and members of the Defence Forces prepare a snug dam, a portable dam that is pumped full of water, at the fishmarket area between Wolfe Tone Bridge and the Spanish Arch in Galway city ahead of storm Brian. Video: Joe O'Shaughnessy

 

Storm Brian is just a “run of the mill storm” albeit one which is badly timed, the State’s national director of emergency planning Sean Hogan has said.

In a departure from the phrases such as “huge Atlantic waves” and “weather bomb” used by weather forecasters and media in recent days, Mr Hogan said severe coastal and river flooding was unlikely.

He described Storm Brian as a “typical” storm similar to about 14 which could be expected through the normal course of an Irish winter.

What made Storm Brian noteworthy was the timing of the event after ex-hurricane Ophelia and the potential effects on the work of almost 3,000 electricity crews who are struggling to reconnect homes and businesses cut off since last Monday.

Mr Hogan said some reconnection work may be interrupted for the duration of the storm and there was potential for further faults to develop.

He said the information supplied by the Office of Public Works was neither the Shannon nor the remaining major rivers in the Republic were expected to flood.

Some Shannon tributaries had become blocked, possibly with debris from ex-hurricane Ophelia, and caused localised flooding in the midlands over Thursday night, he said.

He also said there could be some flooding in “more predictable areas of Cork and Limerick” and there were yellow rain warnings for up to 50 mms of rain. However he said “these again are not exceptional” weather conditions for this time of year.

He said the emergency management team was continuing to appeal to people to check on their neighbours, particularly those who might need assistance.

He also emphasised “safety measures” such as keeping away from fallen electricity wires.

Mr Hogan said that as of yesterday afternoon electricity supplies had been connected to all customers in the northern half of the country and Irish water has reduced the number of people without water supplies to 2,270.

He said the majority of work remained to be done is the southern part of the island and noted that the Defence Forces had provided accommodation for ESB Network crews at Kilworth Barracks in north Cork.

Derek Hynes, operations manager with ESB Networks, said all but some 35,500 customers have been reconnected since last Monday.

He said the ESB remained committed to reconnecting every customer and under the current projections all those without electricity would have it restored next week.

That however was not counting any damage caused by Storm Brian. He said the orange level wind warnings for Saturday “would normally cause damage” and the organisation “may need to suspend repair activities for a short period of time”.

ESB Networks appealed for people to maintain safe practises. Mr Hynes particularly mentioned communities in counties Wexford, Cork, South Tipperary, west Cork, “places like Bandon, Enniscorthy, Kilmuckridge, ” to “reach out to those who are vulnerable and who don’t have electricity”.

Mr Hynes said a further group of 20 technicians would arrive from France to help in the reconnection effort tonight, while there remained 300 crews from Northern Ireland and Britain whose work was aided by Defence Force personnel with high axel vehicles and helicopters.

He said the utility also had 1,000 contractors working on removing timber and carrying equipment.

“We won’t leave anybody behind and we will work until this is complete,” he said.