Drinking water alert amid storm chaos


As efforts continued to restore power to 115,000 homes and businesses — mostly across the south and west — Limerick County Council was forced to order a widespread boil water notice as a precaution.

Electricity supply chiefs in the ESB had earlier warned that repairing power cuts to major infrastructure — such as water treatment plants — were one of its toppriorities.

Limerick County Council said the boil notice was a precaution on the advice ofthe HSE and Irish Water.

“The council is not in a position to guarantee that water supplies throughoutthe county are treated to the standards required by regulations,” a spokesmansaid.

Water supplies in Limerick city and suburbs under the authority of the county council were not affected by the notice.

Limerick County Council said it would continue to liaise with health chiefs with a view to lifting the boil notice as soon as practicable but it was likely to remain in place for a number of days.

The warning called for all water to be boiled rigorously if it was for drinking; for preparing foods not to be cooked; for brushing of teeth, and for making ice.

Limerick County has a population of 135,000 but it is not clear exactly howmany homes and businesses are facing the boil notice.

Also in the west, Clare County Council has begun sending tankers of water tofive towns after shortages in supplies in and around Cratloe, Killaloe, Kilmurry, Kilkishen, and Sixmilebridge.

“The council is in ongoing engagement with the ESB and Irish Water, who have confirmed that they are working to address the issue,” a spokesman for the council said.

Limerick City has been unaffected, with areas under the authority of the countycouncil such as Raheen, Dooradoyle, and Castletroy not included in the boil notice.

Meanwhile, helicopters were deployed by the ESB as 2,000 repair staff began the search for the worst-hit areas, supported by crews from Northern Ireland and outside contractors.

Last night, power had been restored to more than 145,000 customers since the peak of the storm on Tuesday, but up to 80,000 were facing another night without electricity.

Denis Cambridge, southern divisional manager for ESB, said they were facing amassive operation after one of the worst storms on record.

“This is one of the biggest clean up operations I have ever experienced, and we have pulled resources from every part of the company and beyond to get thelights back on as quickly as we can,” he said.

“It is a mammoth task. In Cork and Kerry alone we have over 3,200 individual faults to get to, and we are working against the clock before the next of the bad weather sets in tomorrow.”

The ESB warned it could make no guarantees about when power would be restored to homes.

It was telling people who needed 24-hour power for medical or emergency needsto make other arrangements.

Such is the damage, 1,000 wooden poles, over 250km of conductors and 400 transformers are needed to restore the electricity cable network.

Fallen trees and timber also needed to be cleared from around 2,000 locationsaround the country.

Some 60,000 people were also without telephone and communications at theirhomes and businesses.

West Cork and Kerry have been singled out as the two regions which bore the brunt of the weather system and saw near record winds gusting to 177km/h per hour inland.

The ESB said its crews were working through driving rain and difficult conditions with the focus on supplies in Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford, Waterford, Clare, and Laois.

Helicopters were flown out of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, and Kilcullen, Co Kildare, to examine lines and assess damage to the network.

The aerial patrols were tasked to traverse the south of the country, from thesouth-east towards Limerick and Clare, and into Cork and Kerry.

The Government’s National Coordination Group met yesterday morning to review the damage done to communities up and down the country and to transport and energy services.

“ESB have advised that it deployed 2,000 staff to deal with power outages, and it could take a number of days to restore power to all areas as some of the infrastructure is in remote areas and access problems may hinder them,” the unit said.

Repair teams have been tasked to prioritise power to major infrastructure suchas water treatment plants and pumping stations as these facilities can causepublic health issues first.

High voltage supply lines are also top of the agenda before works begin on themore local supply chain.

New mum facing hardship

By Stephen Rogers

For Lucy Boland, the birth of her second child meant yesterday was a day of huge joy.

However, last night she was having to come to terms with the fact that, when she and her son, born four weeks’ premature, are released from hospital, it could be to a home without electricity or clean, fresh water due to Wednesday’s storms.

Lucy, 26, from Bealad, Clonakilty, in West Cork, said their house has no fires. Therefore, it would have been bad enough for just herself, her partner, and their four-year-old daughter if the electric heating system was not working. However, with a premature baby, it would be impossible to stay there.

Furthermore, she will need to sterilise bottles and other equipment for the baby, meaning clean, water is an essential.

Lucy admitted that if the electricity and a constant supply of clean water are not restored by the time she and her son are discharged, they may have to spend his first days outside hospital with relatives.

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