Disruptions persist as Ireland tries to get back on track

Roads and schools in parts of Leinster, and health services nationally, still affected

The scene at Sandycove harbour as a lone swimmer walks to the edge as the storm subsides. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

The scene at Sandycove harbour as a lone swimmer walks to the edge as the storm subsides. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

 

Ireland is slowly starting to recover from the snows of Storm Emma which covered the country in a blanket of white and brought it to a virtual standstill from the middle of last week.

All Irish airports are set to operate at full capacity on as airlines seek to clear backlogs caused by thousands of flight cancellations while the vast majority of public transport options are also back on track as the nation returns to work after five days of weather-related chaos.

Schools and third-level institutions are reopening for the first time in almost a week although schools have been given the authority to decide whether to open or not depending on individual circumstances.

Some schools in locations badly impacted by snow or where school transport still cannot run, are likely to remain closed for today at least. It is unlikely all schools will open tomorrow in the areas worst affected, such as Wexford, West Wicklow and North Kildare.

While the motorway network is open, significant lane restrictions remain in place and it is necessary for motorists to travel at appropriate speeds.

The potential volumes of traffic on the M7 poses significant challenges with heavy snowfalls in the Kildare area leading to a restriction to one lane on the M7 between Junction 8 and Junction 10 at Naas.

The HSE has cancelled all non-urgent surgeries planned for the start of the week and has stressed there is no need for patients to contact hospitals. as they will be in touch over the coming weeks to reschedule appointments.

Non-urgent surgeries planned for tomorrow are under review and the HSE will make an announcement today regarding the remainder of the week.

Day surgeries will proceed in most acute hospitals as will most outpatient appointments with the exception of Wexford General were all outpatient clinics, radiology and cardiac diagnostics have been cancelled today.

Hospitals unable to discharge patients as a result of heavy snow has led to “a large number of patients being delayed in hospital,” a HSE spokesman said. “We hope patients and their families understand the reasons for this and we will endeavour to facilitate their discharge as soon as possible this week.”

He said that because patients will have to be “gradually discharged”, along with “an expected increase in emergency department attendances, there will be delays in admissions with resultant increased waiting times in emergency departments.”

Outpatient clinics, elective and routine procedures will go ahead as planned at each of the three Dublin children’s hospitals although the Children’s Hospital Group said there may be an impact on some services into early next week.

Supermarkets which struggled to stock their shelves with fresh food and dairy products in particular over the weekend after two days of enforced closures were optimistic supplies would be sufficiently replenished from today although it might be a few days before things are back to normal.

Virtually all Iarnród Éireann routes have returned to normal while most Bus Éireann services are also running to schedule although travelling passengers have been told to expect some with delays and curtailments. Similarly Dublin Bus services are almost back to normal although - as with the nationwide bus service - there there may be some disruptions to services, particularly in areas where roads which have yet to be completely cleared by local authorities.

A full DART services has resumed and the Luas network has been almost completely cleared of snow and is likely to operate as normal today.

All told almost 150,000 homes lost power electricity during the storm although ESB Networks had reconnected the vast majority of homes by Sunday morning and it was hopeful that all remaining homes without power, mostly in the south-east, would be reconnected by this morning at the latest.

As of Sunday evening around 13,000 homes were without water while a further 66,000 across the State had their supply restricted due to falling water levels in reservoirs with areas all over the country said to be impacted by depleted supplies..