Locals enjoying the snow in Tipperary last week.
The trojan work of Tipperary County Council staff before, during and after Storm Emma and the Beast from the East has been commended across local towns and villages.
Council staff combatted drifting snow and treacherous and impassable roads in numbers, epitomising community spirit in their endeavours to help locals in need.
Dedicated workers cleared snow from footpaths, prioritised access to water plants, and offered transport support to and from hospitals and nursing homes for HSE staff and patients requiring daily dialysis treatment.
Tipperary County Council’s Severe Weather Team convened prior to the snow storm, putting in place all necessary arrangements under the guidance of Met Éireann. Over 470 essential staff were put on duty, including 250 outdoor staff in addition to 115 fire staff, 50 Water Services staff, 35 Civil Defence and approximately 20 other members of management.
Fire Service staff permanently located themselves in 12 fire stations from 2pm on Thursday until 6pm on Friday, responding to five incidents in total, a reflection that the public had heeded the warning to remain indoors during the Status Red Severe Weather Warning.
Coordination between the Crisis Management Team, An Garda Síochána, the HSE and the Defence Forces was instrumental in keeping the public updated . The council’s out of hours emergency call management service also dealt with over 150 calls of which 34 were snow related incidents.
The council’s fleet of specialist vehicles and equipment for dealing with snow were fully mobilised as staff worked tirelessly to get Tipperary back on its feet. 14 snow ploughs, 25 JCBs, 15 mini salt spreaders and private contractors across the five Tipperary municipal districts spearheaded the snow clearance drive. Priority routes were snow ploughed and salted initially, with attention focusing on the towns, villages and local roads once these routes were passable. A total of 2,000 tonnes of salt were used during Storm Emma, with 3,200 km of roads covered.
The snow storm was monitored regularly through conference calls, with all participants assessing the situation in the county and taking appropriate action when necessary. Once Met Éireann’s Status Red alert had abated on Friday, snow ploughs were mobilised to clear national and major regional routes through towns, and allowed for access to water treatment plants, fire stations and hospitals, before tackling other regional routes and streets across Tipperary.
The Water Services section of Tipperary County Council, as the agent of Irish Water, was proactive in the days leading up to the snow storm in ensuring the maximum availability of staff and that all water services installations, including drinking water treatment plants and waste water treatments plants, were adequately stocked with chemicals and other materials required in the treatment process. The section inspected all such treatment plants to ensure that machinery and equipment were in full working order.
On Sunday, a water supply issue arose in Cashel where low reservoir levels were causing supply disruptions to the town and surrounding areas, particularly locations on high ground. Staff from the Water Services section were actively engaged in the restoration of normal reservoir levels and, in the meantime, arranged for the supply of a water tanker at St. Patrick’s Hospital to facilitate the supply of drinking water to affected customers. Direct contact was made by Water Services staff with vulnerable customers and local representatives to advise them of the situation.
Arrangements were put in place to ensure those homeless or sleeping rough across Tipperary had access to food supplies and shelter. Gardaí were notified of out of office emergency arrangements and made aware of available emergency accommodation. Six units of additional emergency accommodation were made available by the council in towns throughout the county and a number of rough sleepers were accommodated in emergency bed and breakfast during snow storm.
The council also linked in with staff from the Department of Social Protection, the HSE and voluntary housing organisations Novas and Simon Communities Ireland in relation to accessing emergency accommodation and helping people with the provision of clothing and medical attention.
The Civil Defence - with nine 4x4 emergency vehicles and volunteers mobilised throughout the severe weather event - delivered up to 60 meals to the vulnerable and elderly with the help of local Meals on Wheels workers.
Nenagh Gardaí responded to an emergency call in relation to an injured walker on Keeper Hill, and food parcels and essential supplies were delivered to residents in the Ballingarry area. Assistance was also provided to Wexford Civil Defence and to local primary and secondary schools in clearing snow from footpaths and driveways.
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