Government emergency co-ordination group meets to assess impact of huge storms

Limerick resident Jill Holmes tells how she watched her balcony door fall onto the street as the side of her apartment building was ripped off in today's storm. Video: David Raliegh


A meeting of the Government group that co-ordinates emergency responses to extreme weather was quickly convened last night to respond to the impact of yesterday’s severe storms across the country.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar chaired the meeting of the National Co-ordination Group last night as central Government and all the key agencies tried to build up a picture of the damage caused by the latest storm to hit the country, the eighth since this spate of severe weather began in mid-December. The meeting was called after 5pm, began just before 7pm and lasted an hour.

The group issued a statement after the meeting, noting the major impact of the storm on transport, electricity, and communication infrastructure and buildings, as well as the widespread disruption to travel.

It also referred to rail services being delayed and stopped, airports being closed for periods, and the impact that overturned lorries had on traffic in the areas worst affected by high winds.

Met Éireann had issued a status red severe weather warning for Cork and Kerry initially but this was extended to Leinster, Munster and Connacht as damaging and dangerous winds travelled up across the country from the southwest. The storm is expected to clear the east coast later this evening,” said the group.

“Counties in the path of the storm were badly impacted as it moved across the country. Many buildings were damaged and in Killarney the 52 occupants of a nursing home were evacuated after its roof was damaged. In Kilkenny a major emergency was declared as the number of calls for assistance overwhelmed the response capacity.”

The group expressed concern about power supplies being cut for more than 200,000 homes and said that the ESB would continue to work through the night in an effort to restore power to as many homes as possible.

It also appealed to people to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours in areas where power supplies were down and also to be very careful when using alternative forms of lighting such as candles and paraffin lamps, as all constituted a fire hazard. The group said that local authorities had reported they had begun work on clearing fallen trees in all areas, but again this may take some time.