Storm Ophelia power repairs ‘could take until next week’

About 50,000 customers remain without power following extensive storm damage

Fallen trees and other debris is being cleared from roads all over the country. Crews in Galway were up early removing rocks and seaweed ahead of opening up coastal roads. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

The clean-up following Storm Ophelia has continued on Thursday, with a crew of nearly 4,000 workers working to restore power and water supplies across the country.

Some 50,000 homes, farms and businesses are still without power, down from 63,000 earlier in the day, and repairs could take until early next week. Power has been restored to 335,000 customers, the ESB said.

About 7,800 households remained without water as of Thursday evening, down from a peak of 109,000, according to Irish Water.

“Be assured everyone is working hard to try to get people back as quickly as possible. Communities have been fantastic at helping out each other. Within the farming sector there has been great co-operation,” said the chairman of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, Seán Hogan.

Specialist crews arrived from Northern Ireland, Scotland, the UK and France on Wednesday, adding 250 people to the 2,500 ESB staff and 1,000 contractors already working to restore power, said Mr Hogan.

“Huge progress has been made,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday.

“The problems are mostly in the southern part of the country - Cork, Wexford, Waterford, Kerry, Tipperary, and other isolated areas.”

He said high voltage networks were restored and now they are working down the lines.

The Defence Forces have been assisting, but this very specialised work, he added.

“Working on power lines is very specialised,” said Mr Hogan. “The Defence Forces were flying along the lines, the Air Corps is also supporting going over the lines to locate damaged areas. Some of the Defence Forces chainsaw crews are assisting to clear.”

Early next week

“By Saturday, the ESB will have power restored to 90 per cent of their customers, after that - it will be tree by tree, pole by pole, working out the lines,” said Mr Hogan, adding that the repair work will take until early next week.

This afternoon, Mr Hogan said: “With more normal winter wind and rain conditions likely from today and over the weekend, local authorities are being advised to factor in rest for those staff who have cleared practically all roads and who are removing debris.”

ESB has publishedestimated restoration times for people still affected by power outages.

Meanwhile, eir estimates that the number of customers without broadband, telephone and mobile service following the storm has reduced to 30,000, with the communications provider identifying more than 1,000 locations across the country where network damage was sustained.

“The scale of the damage ranges from a single pole, up to 18 poles and 2km of cables along one particular section of road. The vast majority of impacted mobile sites are now back in service,” the company said in a statement.

The southern half of the country is worst affected by the communications faults, it said.

“We expect the total number of customers without service will continue to reduce as power supply issues are resolved. However, the number of individual line faults reported to us will rise over the coming days,” said the company.

The number of customers on schemes that are at risk of running out of water is now at 1,606, down from a peak of 260,000.

“As drinking water schemes have been secured, resources have been directed to wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations which have been similarly affected by power outages,” said the National Emergency Co-ordination Group.

Health services are due to return to normal over the next few days, according to the group, but some disruption is likely.