Storm Emma: Risk of flooding in many areas as thaw begins

The worst of the blizzard conditions have now passed, but heavy drifts of snow continue to leave conditions across the country hazardous.

    Storm Emma - what we know so far:

  • Current weather warnings: Status Red Snow-ice Warning in place for Dublin, Kildare, Wexford, Wicklow and Meath; Status Orange Snow-ice Warning for Munster, the rest of Leinster, Cavan, Monaghan and Galway; Status Yellow Snow-Ice Warning for Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo
  • More snow showers are expected later today, with a gradual thaw occurring over the weekend
  • The public safety advice to stay indoors has been withdrawn, but public told to still exercise extreme caution.
  • Motorists have been urged to avoid making unnecessary journeys.
  • Some disruption to electricity, water and telecommunications services.
  • BUS: All Bus Éireann services have been cancelled today - some limited service tomorrow morning. Citylink operating Galway-Dublin route.
  • AIR: Airports are closed today.
  • RAIL: No Luas today. Irish Rail services are also cancelled, but will resume from around 12pm tomorrow, subject to alterations and delays.
  • HSE: Elective, non-urgent or outpatient appointments have been cancelled;

By Elaine Loughlin and Evelyn Ring

The public has been warned of flooding across many areas as the thaw after Storm Emma begins.

The Taoiseach said recovering from the impacts of the storm, which caused blizzards, power outages, and coastal flooding, will be a “considerable challenge” in the days ahead and urged people to remain cautious.

Speaking after a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group, Leo Varadkar said 230 snow ploughs were working to clear roads, along with 293 specialist gritters, which had spread 6,000 tonnes of grit.

These efforts, which were focused on clearing main routes as well as access to food and fuel depots, will continue over the weekend.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addresses the press after a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Mr Varadkar said: “We are now looking towards the recovery phase. This will be a considerable challenge and is likely to take a few days.”

He said the full resources of the State had been deployed to get the country “moving safely again”.

“Our particular focus is on transport infrastructure. We need the roads back in a safe condition for people to use. Many roads are still unpassable and work is being done on clearing the snow and ice.

“Snow is going to continue to fall and then of course after that, we are into the thaw period and depending on how the snow thaws, there is a risk of flooding,” said the Taoiseach.

Paying tribute to those working through the storm, Mr Varadkar said: “The emergency services have been working around the clock to ensure the safety of our people. An Garda Síochána has responded to hundreds of stranded cars and the ambulance and fire service responded to hundreds of emergencies throughout the night. Our defence forces responded to 81 individual requests and are on stand-by today and over the weekend. The coast guard has assisted over 400 people.”

Passersby helping to push a 4x4 SUV out of the snow on Chesterfield Avenue, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Picture: Conor McCabe.

It was “heartening” to see the “great community spirit” across the country, he said, as people made sure elderly and vulnerable neighbours were looked after.

Irish Rail hoped to run a number of test trains this evening to ensure no lines have been damaged and that it will be safe to resume services tomorrow. However, the south Dart line experienced significant flooding and it is unlikely to run in the morning.

People waiting on delayed trains at Heuston Station this week. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

It is also hoped that Bus Éireann will be able to operate some services tomorrow.

Chair of the National Emergency Coordination Group Seán Hogan said drifting snow will continue to pose particular problems, with some houses and communities expected to be inaccessible for some days.

The HSE’s national director for emergency management said it will be hard to keep health services staffed in the coming days.

Damien McCallion said: “At the moment, we feel reasonably comfortable, but we are still under pressure. Transport is a big issue. It is going to be difficult over the next few days to keep services staffed.

“The ambulance service is getting about 1,000 calls a day, which is the normal call volume that we would expect so there has been no drop-off.

“We are asking people to be patient and to keep in touch with the National Emergency Operations Centre if they have any concerns,” he said.

General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ní Sheaghdha said some nurses were going to work even when not rostered as their colleagues could not travel.


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