Cork hit hard as 30,000 people left without electricity


Storm Darwin left its mark on County Cork yesterday, with tens of thousands of customers still without power as repair and restore operations continued.

Jim Hernan, ESB Networks regional manager for the Cork area, said about 30,000 customers in West Cork were still without power yesterday afternoon, although he expected electricity would be restored in many of those dwellings by last night.

In West Cork alone, there were 600 different known faults — typically, fallen power cables knocked by trees blown over by winds.

He said the “main pockets” in the West Cork area without power were Clonakilty, Timoleague, Ballinaspittle, Ballydehob, Glengarriff, Castletownbere, Dunmanway, and Skibbereen, as well as Coachford and Aherla closer to the Kerry border.

The two main power depots for the West Cork area are in Dunmanway and Bandon. Both typically have crews of 50 each but those numbers were doubled yesterday as crew from the north of the country — and Northern Ireland Electricity — joined the efforts to restore power.

Around West Cork it was a tale of fallen trees, damaged walls and properties, and power outages.

Dunmanway was one of the worst affected areas in the country when it came to power loss, with nearly 12,000 people without power yesterday afternoon.

In Clonakilty, the emergency services had to attend to separate incidents in the town where a tree pulled down power lines after it was knocked on Wednesday afternoon. Sheets of galvanised iron were whipped off a shed adjacent to a house on the bypass road.

On Wednesday night, both the Imperial Hotel and O’Donovan’s Hotel retained electricity services and were almost overwhelmed by the numbers of people seeking food, with O’Donovan’s running out of hot food at one point.

In Bantry yesterday afternoon, many houses on the outskirts of the town were still without electricity, with reports of slates having been blown off roofs and shed roofs being lifted in the Adrigole area.

Bantry harbour master Michael Murphy said 12 fishing trawlers from Germany, France, and Spain came into Bantry Bay to shelter from the storm on Wednesday.

“The swell heights were hitting about eight to 10 metres west of Bull Rock,” he said, adding that in other areas such as Sheep’s Head, the swell had been even more pronounced. However, no coastal damage was reported.

As the storm clean-up continued, early morning driving conditions across Cork City and country were described as treacherous as snow fell after a freezing night.

Cork City Council was criticised for failing to grit roads across the northside of the city early enough.

Last night, people in the Boreenmanna Road area of Cork City were warned to expect disruption to their water services after a mini “sinkhole” appeared in the road. The hole is close to the Willows apartments.

Cork City Council engineers were at the scene last night and expect repairs to get under way quickly. They believe a watermain ruptured underneath the spot, causing the road to subside.

Bus Éireann suspended and curtail several suburban services to parts of the northside until the thaw set in during mid-morning.

The mobile phone networks vanished in many parts of the country, only springing back to life in the early afternoon. There was between 10% to 12% loss of phone coverage although Eircom estimated that services would be restored last night to between 30,000 and 60,000 customers.

Vodafone said thousands of its customers were affected in Galway, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Wexford, Kilkenny, Laois, Mayo, and Clare. It said engineers were doing all they could to restore coverage. “There are generators en route to key impacted sites and once on site, coverage can be restored,” a spokesperson said.

The aircraft parking stands close to Cork Airport’s terminal building remained closed yesterday because of the risk posed by debris dangling from the storm-damaged roof.

The storm also knocked out Kerry Airport’s phone and internet systems.

Despite the difficulties, flights operated as normal with passengers advised to check with their airlines before driving to the airport.

Irish Rail operated a full service from Cork, but with delays of up to 20 minutes on some Dublin-Cork services

Bus transfers were operating between Tralee and Mallow, and between Limerick and Athenry, after power outages affected the operation of level crossings.

Celtic Link Ferries cancelled its 9.30pm sailing between Rosslare and Cherbourg last night, and its Cherbourg to Rosslare sailing tonight at 9pm.

There were large clean-up operations under way at Fermoy Golf Club, where up to 100 trees were knocked, and at Cork Golf Club and Fota Golf Club. Several trees were also knocked on Blarney Castle Estate.

A spokesperson for Cork County Council said the power cuts around the county had also resulted in water outages in a number of areas.

Among the towns affected were Kinsale, Bantry, Skibbereen, and Fermoy, with the Freemount area in particular without a water supply. It was hoped that all affected areas would have water supply restored by last night or this morning.

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