herald

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Hospitals, schools and transport services need more time to recover

Two men making their way to Blackrock use signs to shield themselves from the blinding wind
Two men making their way to Blackrock use signs to shield themselves from the blinding wind

It could be two weeks before hospital services return to normal in the aftermath of Storm Emma, the HSE has warned.

A spike in patients reporting to Emergency Departments with fractures as a result of slips and falls is anticipated in the next 72 hours.

The fallout from Storm Emma will continue to be felt across the country over the coming days.

The National Emergency Coordination Group held a briefing yesterday evening, where its chair Sean Hogan described the weather event as "ongoing".

A "conveyor belt" of snow and sleet continued to batter the east of the country last night, leading to fresh calls for people to avoid being out on the roads if at all possible.

Therese Eagers digs a pathway in her back garden in Rathcoole
Therese Eagers digs a pathway in her back garden in Rathcoole

Warning

"The message remains about not making unnecessary travel," said Mr Hogan, adding that roads should be reserved for people providing essential services. "This is an extraordinary weather event by any measure."

The warning came as public transport services were scheduled to operate on a limited basis today - although that will be contingent on inspections of conditions this morning.

Irish Rail expects to start running services from midday at the earliest but this may not be possible in the midlands where large accumulations of snow are still blocking lines.

Darts will recommence but may not be able to travel south of Dublin city during high tides due to flooding.

Meanwhile, the Luas is likely to operate a full service from around midday onwards.

Parents in Dublin use skis to go for a walk with their child
Parents in Dublin use skis to go for a walk with their child

Dublin Bus will travel on main roads but not into most housing estates.

The situation at Bus Eireann is described as "fluid".

Cancelled

It comes as Aer Lingus cancelled more than 50 flights from Dublin Airport today, as weather continues to wreak havoc with schedules.

The airline had planned for a return to full operations after suspending all flights yesterday, but cancelled over 50 flights this morning.

"Our Dublin short-haul flight schedule for today will be disrupted with early morning flights cancelled and most operations not commencing until after 10am," a spokesperson said.

Ryanair also cancelled over a dozen flights to and from Dublin today.

The airline said that affected passengers would be informed by text and email, but advised that anyone flying should check the status of their service before leaving for the airport.

Aviation officials warned that departures will be dependent on weather conditions in arrival destinations. Airport crews have been working to remove snow from runways to avoid the build-up of major drifts.

The news comes as a Status Red warning was extended until 9am today for eastern counties, where snow continues to accumulate.

Disruption

Meanwhile, it has emerged that schools may not all be able to re-open on Monday because of the ongoing disruption caused by weather.

While the worst of the blizzard may have passed, predictions of further snow, ice and low temperatures around the country will mean a slow return to safe conditions in many areas.

Rural schools in the regions worst hit by the extreme weather events are most at risk of a delayed return.

Advice to schools to keep their heating on during this week's closure will have minimised the risk of frozen pipes, but some secondary roads may be impassable on Monday, at least.

Seamus Mulconry, general secretary of the Catholic Primary School Management Association, which represents 90pc of the country's 3,200 primary schools, said: "I don't think we will really know until Sunday evening what the outlook is for Monday and whether a principal can make an informed call."