June 16, 2021

Ireland: Hurricane Ophelia -Three dead and 360,000 without power as monster storm hits

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By Patrick Logue, Seán Dunne, Ciaran D’Arcy, Fiona Gartland From Irish Times

Schools to remain closed on Tuesday as storm hits the southwest with winds of over 160 km/h

Over 360,000 properties are without power and three people have died as Hurricane Ophelia sweeps in over Ireland with damaging gusts and heavy rainfall.

Members of the public have been advised to stay inside and not to make unnecessary journeys as the worst storm the country has seen in more than 50 years passes over. Public transport services have been cancelled countrywide and there have been a series of road closures. All Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, Bus Eireann, Luas services have been suspended for the rest of the day until Tuesday morning.

The death of a woman in the hurricane has been confirmed. A tree fell on the car in Aglish, Co Waterford shortly before noon. Gardai say the woman driving the car in her 50s died when a tree came through the windscreen of the car and a passenger, the woman’s mother in her 70s was injured. The woman is from the local area.

Gardai said a man in his 30s has died in Ballybrado, Cahir, Co Tipperary . He was clearing a fallen tree and was seriously injured with a chainsaw. He has since passed away and his body has been removed to Clonmel Hospital. Gardai are urging everyone to stay indoors.

Power outage
As of 3pm over 360,000 properties are without power as Hurricane Ophelia blows an “unprecedented” path of destruction across Ireland, according to the ESB. It said there may be up to 450,000 outages by the end of the day.
“Pretty much every part of the country has been effected at this point in terms of electricity supplies,2 said ESB spokesman Derek Hynes on Tuesday afternoon.

“Storm Darwin in February 2014 resulted in a loss of supply to 280,000 customers, the restoration effort during storm Darwin took up to 8 days across the country to restore supply to everybody,” he said.

“It is our position at the minute we expect approximately 450,000 homes and businesses to be without electricity by darkness this evening,” he said.

“Currently our prioritisation is looking at restoring the supply to vulnerable and medically effected customers and we will then move on into restoring supply to state infrastructure, schools, water supplies. communication facilities,” he added.

It could take several days to restore power with most people without power on Monday night and for a few days, ESB says.

Head of Corporate Affairs for ESB, Bernardine Maloney has urged members of the public not to ring the ESB unless it is an emergency. The ESB are urging members of the public to not ring in to report a power outage unless they are encountering an emergency.

“To report an emergency people can ring 1850-372-999. Do not approach any fallen lines, people sometimes think they should clear them off the road or to wrap them up or kick them to the side. They shouldn’t as they are live wires and dangerous.”

In Northern Ireland, NIE Networks said around 18,000 customers are without electricity across all parts of the North.

Telecoms company Eir said there is “unprecedented and widespread” levels of damage to its infrastructure,” including damage to poles, cables and masts. There are 11,000 customers without broadband, telephone and mobile services, it said. The worst affected areas so are in the Southwest, West and Midlands.

Water Supply
Irish Water said power outages are affecting treatment plants and pumping stations. However this has for the most part not impacted water supplies due to a combination of reservoir storage and backup generators on the more critical supplies. It said rainfall levels have been manageable. Irish Water envisage some supply restrictions between 10pm this evening and 7am tomorrow to conserve water where necessary.

The Department of Education has confirmed that schools will remain closed on Tuesday.

It said the decision was taken in the “interests of child safety”. It said while some schools may not be as badly impacted as others, thousands of homes and businesses were without power, many roads were
closed due to fallen trees.

“It is also the case that school authorities will in very many cases not have had an opportunity to check their buildings and confirm they are safe, have power and water, and that routes to the school are safely open.”

It recognised the decision would have a major impact on families and the workforce. “ However, this decision has been taken in the interests of safety for children and to provide clarity for everyone concerned.” All schools, colleges and creches closed on Monday.

All schools in Northern Ireland have been advised to remain closed tomorrow, the Department of Education in the North has said.

The situation is less clear on the opening of creches and childcare providers. The Department of Children said the safety and welfare of children, staff and parents “ should be carefully considered by each service before they decide on service resumption”.

“Those whose premises have been damaged or are facing pro-longed power outages should advise their County Childcare Committees,” it said.

The University of Limerick will be open as usual on Tuesday .

As predicted
Sean Hogan, national director for fire and emergency management, said the extent of the damage unfortunately, was as predicted.
“It would be caused by very severe gusts, the kind of damage this particular hurricane and the nature of the pulsing gusts that this particular storm has brought to us has done damage, particularly with trees down, the impact that has had on roads, and transport, on the ESB.”

For more on this story and video go to: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/hurricane-ophelia-three-dead-and-360-000-without-power-as-monster-storm-hits-1.3257434

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