Wednesday 20 March 2019

Fresh fears of water rationing as storm Emma clean-up is under way

ESB crews work to restore power in Tallaght.
ESB crews work to restore power in Tallaght.

Widespread water rationing in Dublin is a possibility as the thaw sets in across the country.

Widespread water rationing in Dublin is a possibility as the thaw sets in across the country.

In the Greater Dublin Area, Irish Water saw an increase of more than 10pc in demand from Friday until yesterday.

Three major bursts in the North Docklands, Infirmary Road and Skerries areas were wasting the equivalent of the daily water usage of Balbriggan, which has a population of more than 20,000.

However, they have been repaired.

Tommy Thompson and his son Andrew shovel snow in Kilteel Road, Co Dublin
Tommy Thompson and his son Andrew shovel snow in Kilteel Road, Co Dublin

Irish Water said it is working with local authorities around the county to minimise the risk to customers and restore full drinking water supply.

It is trying to minimise the impact of restrictions by confining them to night-time hours where possible.

The warning came as a Dublin woman, who said she had been forced to boil snow to make up bottles for her baby son after her water was cut off during Storm Emma, was finally reached by council staff yesterday.


Rachael Collins (21) had been snowed in at her home in Bohernabreena, Co Dublin, with her parents, two brothers, boyfriend and seven-month-old son since Wednesday as up to eight foot of snow accumulated in their driveway.

However, council staff - assisted by members of Rachael's family - managed to reach her yesterday afternoon, allowing her to get to the shops for nappies and baby food.

"Once he's looked after I'm happy," she told the Herald.

Digger driver Patsy Dunne clears snow from Kilteel Road as Damien Lee looks on.
Digger driver Patsy Dunne clears snow from Kilteel Road as Damien Lee looks on.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) held a lengthy meeting at which a series of new snow-related problems emerged.

It will be far from business as usual today, though most schools and businesses are expected to re-open.

Business owners are being urged to stagger opening times in a bid to avoid normal rush-hour traffic volumes.

Many communities in the south-east, particularly in Wexford, are likely to remain cut off from main roads for days.

Massive snowdrifts are also creating problems in parts of Kildare, Wicklow and Waterford.

Public transport in Dublin was mostly expected to return to normal today, though there were still some disruptions to services.

Dublin Bus is operating its normal schedule, but warned that there will be some curtailments in place.

It advised passengers to expect delays this morning and allow extra time for their journey, especially at peak times.

"As curtailments remain in place on some routes, real time information is unavailable," the company said.

"It will return when full service is restored, to ensure the accuracy of information for customers."

It advised passengers to check its website, which is being updated regularly.

Irish Rail said Dart services are scheduled to operate normally today. For Luas passengers, full Red and Green Line services will be in operation.

The Red Line will operate a full-line service from The Point to Tallaght and Saggart.

However, the Belgard to Saggart stops will be served by a replacement bus service.

The Green Line will operate a full-line service from Broombridge to Brides Glen.


Meanwhile, there are fears that emergency services may not be able to reach an accident on the M7 motorway if it happens near Naas.

Motorists are being warned to use extreme caution when returning to the roads today, particularly on local routes.

The motorway network is open, but there are lane restrictions in many places.

Rush-hour traffic on the M7 poses "significant challenges" because the road is down to one lane between junctions eight and 10.

NECG head Sean Hogan said that if an incident takes place on this stretch of road today "there is a risk of lack of access for emergency services".

Assistant Garda Commissioner David Sheahan described the M7 as a "pinch point coming into Dublin".

Local authorities have made big progress in clearing routes, but many regional roads remain impassable due to snow drifts.

Wexford is particularly badly affected, with a substantial number of houses likely to remain cut off for some days.

It emerged yesterday that the treatment of a seriously ill man in the Tallaght area was affected by the weather, after emergency medical teams were forced to carry him over snow to an ambulance.

Response teams found the way to the scene had been impeded by heavy snow.

A spokesperson for the HSE National Ambulance Service said it received a call at 1.16pm from the Dublin Fire Brigade to say a man was in trouble and needed assistance.

The ambulance and an emergency response vehicle arrived on scene in Tallaght at 1.30pm and an advanced paramedic carried out advanced life support treatment.

The patient had to be carried 300 metres from a park in Killinarden to the ambulance as a result of the snow and arrived at Tallaght Hospital at 2.02pm.

His condition last night was unknown.

A spokesman for Dublin Fire Brigade said it had vehicles getting into difficulty in a number of locations around west Dublin.

South Dublin County Council said its teams were out all day working to clear roads and footpaths.

The HSE said it had cancelled all non-urgent surgeries planned for today.

However, outpatient appointments will resume across all hospitals, with the exception of Wexford General.

The Herald understands that up to 700 patients were effectively trapped in hospitals over the weekend despite being ready for discharge.

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