COUNTY COUNCIL PRAISED FOR SWIFT REACTION DURING SNOW
COUNCILLORS received a detailed report on the recent severe weather at Monday’s monthly meeting with presentations on roads and water and from the Fire Services and Civil Defence.
Chief Executive Frank Curran explained that Wicklow County Council’s Severe Weather Coordination Group first met on Friday, February 23, after a severe weather warning had been issued. The group consisted of representatives from An Garda Siochana, HSE, Fire Service, Civil Defence and Council Staff and was chaired by Mr Curran.
They met nine times in total, as well as engaging in phone calls and regular conference calls.
Twelve severe weather press releases were issued in all, while Twitter and Facebook accounts were constantly updated.
Boil notices were issued for Aughrim-Annacurra and Barndarrig due to failures with chlorine pumps. Very few leaks were experienced during the height of the snow, with Enniskerry, Greystones and Donard the only areas to experience burst pipes. Some restrictions to the supply of water to Dublin impacted on Bray and Greystones, but not for long.
Three houses on Castle Street in Wicklow town suffered flooding on Friday after sea water came over the walls. The local authority is engaging with the OPW about carrying out improvements.
A boat sank at Arklow Harbour due to the weight of snow. Wicklow Recycling Centre suffered some flood damage, while the roof of Bray Recycling Centre was also damaged.
The N11 was kept open to a minimum of at least one lane for the duration of the snow. Even by last Monday, there were still sections of the N81 which hadn’t been fully reopened yet. Wicklow County Council was able to deploy 12 lorries with snow ploughs and 1,500 tonnes of salt. Ninety items of hired plant machinery were also in use.
Chief Fire Officer Aidan Dempsey said changes were made when it was announced that the public should stay in from 4 p.m. on the Thursday after a Red Weather Warning was issued.
‘It was suggested and agreed that all Fire Service members would man their stations for the duration of the night so we would have quicker response times. We were also in constant com- munications with the HSE services, the Gardai and the local authority.’
The Fire Services had to respond to two road collisions, the rescue of two motorists, two house fires, one outdoor fire and helping two casualties to their ambulance.
The Fire Services pumped out water from properties on Strand Street in Wicklow town, as well as providing sand bags.
‘The conditions continued to be challenging throughout but we were supported thoroughly by other agencies,’ said Mr Dempsey.
Civil Defence Officer Michael Richardson said all members were on standby from Monday, February 26, and remained so for 11 days.
Twenty-six volunteers were available on a shift basis with five 4X4 vehicles in operation. The Civil Defence took over 300 calls and transported essential staff to a number of hospitals, while also transporting patients for dialysis treatment.
‘We had to evacuate residents from properties with no power and no water. We had to bring some dialysis patients for treatment in the morning and then collect them again later that day. We also assisted Wexford Civil Defence by meeting them at Jack Whites, bringing the patients to hospital and them meeting Wexford Civil Defence back at Jack Whites,’ said Mr Richardson.
At one stage, Wicklow Civil Defence borrowed a Hägglund track vehicle from Dublin Civil Defence so they could gain access to a property in Manor Kilbride whose boiler was covered by snow.
Councillors praised the Severe Weather Coordination Group’s response to the snowy conditions, but were less enamoured with so called ‘snow tourists.’
Cllr Shay Cullen said: ‘Snow tourists caused a lot of difficulties for workers trying to clear up the roads. You had people coming into the uplands in their Jeeps and cars and getting stuck. More importantly, they were stopping the progress of the work being carried out.’
Cllr Nicola Lawless said: ‘Snow tourists are our biggest bane. I don’t understand why people have to go up to the Sally Gap to see snow when there is already plenty of snow on the lowlands.’
A snowy Lake Drive in Blessington.