herald

Friday 19 October 2018

Money, food and fuel shortage fear as panic grips the country

Lauren and Ryan Chaney with their snowman in Clondalkin
Lauren and Ryan Chaney with their snowman in Clondalkin

Post offices are running out of cash as panic grips the country due to the severe weather.

Offices in Dublin, Louth and Offaly are reported to have been emptied of cash as social welfare recipients queued to collect payments.

The move by the Government to pay a double fuel allowance was blamed for the run on post offices.

People collecting other social welfare payments, such as pensions, have also put pressure on cash.

An Post spokeswoman Anna McHugh revealed that roads blocked by snow meant some post offices had not received deliveries of cash.

She said this meant some had run out of money, leaving postmasters with no option but to make partial social welfare payments.

Around 32 post offices out of a network of more than 1,120 were unable to open yesterday as inaccessible roads meant staff were unable to get to work.

The rest closed at around noon, with long queues reported in some before they shut up for the day.

Social welfare recipients were reassured they will still be able to collect their payments at a later stage.

Bank branches have been closed, prompting fears of a cash run-down, but a spokesman for the Banking and Payments Federation said there was unlikely to be an issue with bank ATMs running short of cash.

Meanwhile, fresh food stock is unlikely to make it to Irish supermarkets until the weekend at the earliest, with delivery drivers not taking to the road until the red weather alert is downgraded.

The country's largest sup- ermarkets are hopeful of re-opening their doors late this afternoon or in the early evening.

Contingency

However, this is dependent on the red alert being lifted at 4pm today.

A spokeswoman for Tesco Ireland said contingency plans made earlier this week mean it has enough stock to cater for customers when it re-opens.

"Our drivers don't make deliveries during red weather alerts, so the earliest we expect to resume stock deliveries is tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting," she said.

"We're confident we'll have good stock levels when we re-open, and in the 24 hours immediately after we aim to make multiple deliveries to stores as we get back up and running as quickly as possible."

An Aldi spokesperson said it received deliveries of fresh products yesterday morning. However, stores closed at 1pm.

Both SuperValu and Centra said they will reopen their stores when it is safe to do so, but have not given a specific time as yet.

Fuel availability is also expected to take a hit due to the storm, with Topaz Ireland saying high demand in certain fuel stations means availability could be affected.

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