Ophelia leaves 74,000 Co Cork homes without power

All national roads and all but a handful of regional roads in Co Cork are now passable, but work was still being carried out last night on 70 rural roads still blocked by fallen trees and 74,000 homes in the county remain without electricity.

More than 300 county council staff, aided by 60 tree surgeons and a fleet of 100 tractors and JCBs are continuing to clear the debris.

Firemen from 16 stations were involved in the clean-up and have so far attended to 46 incidents, including six road crashes attributed to the storm, while rescuing three people from damaged buildings.

Youghal swimming pool is closed indefinitely due to serious structural damage and Ballincollig Regional Park will close for at least a week after more than 60 trees were felled by wind.

The ESB said by today they should be in a position to give information on the likely times for power restoration, although it could be several days before homes in remote rural areas get electricity back.

They urged people who come across fallen wires not to go near them and to immediately contact the company on 1850 372 999.

The county council’s crisis management team is prioritising the clean-ups.

Tom Stritch, a member of that team and the council’s director of roads, said scores of rural roads had been blocked by fallen trees.

The council received 600 calls from the public about blocked roads and Mr Stritch said priority will be given to clearing busier local roads.

He also said the council was getting calls yesterday about more trees coming down.

“One of the complications we have is that power and telecom lines have become entangled in fallen trees, so we need the utility companies with us when we are clearing up,” Mr Stritch said.

He warned people to be vigilant because trees weakened by the storm could collapse in the coming days.

The council is working with Irish Water to restore water supplies in Cobh and Youghal by putting generators in the two towns.

They have restored water supplies to the Kinsale, Bandon and Charleville areas. However, thousands of homes in rural areas are still without a supply and the council is in discussions with Irish Water to bring in water by tanker if needed.

The outages are mainly due to electricity supplies being cut to pumping stations.

The county council is being hampered because power supplies have also been cut to a number of its own offices.

Last night 15 of its offices were still affected by network issues. Contractors have been deployed to carry out urgent repairs to around 40 county council-owned houses damaged by the storm.

Mr Stritch said the council is undertaking a survey of bridges in case of structural damage. However, he said to date nothing serious had been reported.

The council is also carrying out a thorough investigation into the impact Storm Ophelia has had on coastal infrastructure including piers, harbours, and pontoons.

The local authority has sent teams out to towns and villages to carry out an assessment of needs and respond to them in a priority fashion.

The council’s emergency line remains open 24/7 so people can still report an incident to 021 480 0048.

A meeting of the Fermoy/Charleville municipal district was cancelled yesterday after councillors decided it was better to have all their senior staff out on the ground than tied up for a couple of hours at a meeting.

Social welfare offices in Mallow, Clonakilty and Kinsale were closed yesterday because of power outages and disruption to computer systems.

The remaining social welfare offices in the county were only able to operate a limited service due to what was described as technical issues. Social welfare recipients can find updates at www.welfare.ie.

Meanwhile, fears of traffic chaos at the busiest road junction outside Dublin were averted by ESB crews.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland had warned that power outages had hit traffic lights at the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange and were concerned they would not be operational for yesterday morning’s rush-hour.

A spokesman for the roads’ body Sean O’Neill said ESB crews had worked through the night to restore power.

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