October 16th, 2017
The Taoiseach has said that the Government is “poised, resourced and ready to respond” as the unprecedented Storm Ophelia hits the West coast.
Leo Varadkar was speaking to the media following a briefing from the National Emergency Coordination Group on tropical storm Ophelia and its impacts this morning.
This will be followed by two further meetings in the afternoon and evening, with the Group holding various meetings since the initial warning from Met Eireann last Wednesday.
190km/h Gusts Recorded
The centre of the storm was just southwest of Kerry as of 11.30am this morning, with extremely severe conditions across Cork and Kerry at the moment.
Gusts in excess of 120 km/h were recorded at Cork Airport this morning, with winds of 190km/h recorded at Fastnet Rock, the most southerly point of Ireland, at 11.30am this morning.
The Taoiseach said that today’s number one priority was “to avoid any injury or loss of life” as we saw when Hurricane Debbie hit Ireland in September 1961 and led to the deaths of 11 people.
Emergency accommodation will be made available for “everyone who needs it”, the Taoiseach said.
“Homeless and housing first teams are out to encourage people sleeping rough to get into emergency accommodation,” he added. “The Government is poised, resourced and ready to respond in any way necessary.”
Sean Hogan, Director of the Fire and Emergency Management in the Department of Housing, said that the storm has “potential life-threatening conditions”.
He repeated safety messages for people to stay indoors as the storm passes through their area of the country.
Minister of State at the Office of Public Works (OPW), Kevin Moran, said that the impact of the storm will be “unprecedented”.
— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) October 16, 2017
He added that the Government is “faced with an awful problem” if the current conditions in Cork are repeated across the country.
There are already reports of trees down in the south and, as of 12 noon, 120,000 ESB customers are without power.
The main areas impacted are in the southern half of the country and include counties Kerry, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick.
Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed that Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann are not running today and that Irish Rail will be “running sporadically” across the country. The Luas has also stopped running.
All ferries have been cancelled and many flights have been cancelled, with Minister Ross calling on anyone travelling to check the website of the airport they are intending to travel from for updates.
The Department of Education and Skills yesterday announced that all schools, colleges and other educational institutions are to remain closed today. Crèches and Montessori facilities should also remain closed tomorrow.
All An Post delivery services and post offices closed at noon, while all hospital outpatient and court appointments have been cancelled today.