165,000 remain without power

Around 165,000 homes and businesses remain without power today in the wake of one of the most ferocious Atlantic storms in living memory.

ESB warned some customers could be without power for two or more days as repairs focus initially on high voltage lines.

Helicopters have been deployed by the electricity company as 2,000 repair staff search for the worst-hit areas, supported by crews from the North and outside contractors.

Power has been restored to over 95,000 customers since the peak of the storm yesterday, the ESB said.

“Later today ESB Networks will have more detailed information on how long it will take to carry out the restoration and where necessary give customers the information to make alternative arrangements,” the company said.

“ESB Networks confirm at this point that the damage is extensive and it will be days by the time some customers will have power restored.”

Power chiefs said repairing dangerous faults and making them is priority before faults can be repaired to restore supply to the larger number of homes and businesses.

“Customers affected by isolated faults could be without supply for two or more days,” they warned.

Some 60,000 people are also without telephone and communications at their homes and businesses.

Jerry O’Sullivan, ESB Networks managing director, warned restoring power to everyone was a truly epic task.

”Our major concern is that fallen lines and conductors are made safe so members of the public are safe,” he said.

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

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, Laois.

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

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

The Government’s National Coordination Group met this 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 such as water treatment plants and pumping stations as these facilities can cause public health issues first.

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

Two of the worst affected regions were Killarney where 52 occupants of a nursing home were evacuated after its roof was damaged and Kilkenny where a major emergency was declared after more weather related incidents.

Children in Listellick national school in Tralee, Co Kerry had to be evacuated after the roof was blown off.

The co-ordination unit warned people about safety in the aftermath of the storm including using candles and open heating sources in the home.

Road users have also been warned about freezing temperatures hitting parts of the country on the back of the storm.

Met Éireann said the current unsettled spell will continue tomorrow and Saturday with heavy rain and very strong and gales.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary body has revealed that more than 100 piers, harbours, slipways and other coastal infrastructure have been damaged in the run of winter storms since Christmas.

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