8 December 2015
By Tom Collins
A further meeting of the National Coordination Group to discuss the on-going severe weather was held in the (NECC) National Emergency Coordination Centre today (8th December 2015) to review the response to date, to assess the impact of the storms on infrastructure and communities and to ensure that the response of relevant local authorities, Government Departments and Agencies continues to be coordinated.
The response to all emergencies is appropriately locally-led in the first instance (by relevant local authorities in the case of severe weather). The Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government monitors the situation and determines if a Severe Weather National Co-ordination Group should be convened if certain trigger conditions are arrived at or where the local response is overwhelmed and central assistance might be required.
The Storm Desmond severe weather warning issued by Met Eireann was monitored by the Department as Lead Government Department for severe weather emergencies and contact was maintained with Met Eireann, the local authorities and the transport and energy sectors. The agencies in the front-line reported on their responses to the storms at the meeting.
As the response phase ends, the relevant local authorities will commence their clean-ups and in some counties prepare for further possible flooding events particularly in some areas of the Shannon catchment area.
Advice from the group remains that weather should be more settled in the days ahead but that more rainfall is expected. Swollen rivers and sodden land, particularly in the Shannon catchment area should be expected and the levels in the Shannon will continue to rise until Friday and into Saturday.
The ESB has confirmed that due to the elevated levels of water in the Shannon, due to the many tributaries feeding into it. It will be necessary to increase the discharges at the Parteen Dam and this will cause some flooding down river. Castleconnel and Mount Pellier are particularly vulnerable. The ESB continue to liaise with the Local Authorities and residents in the areas that may be affected.
The public is advised to avoid walking along riverbanks and seafronts if at all possible until it is safe to do so. People are further advised to follow local flood warnings issued through local authorities for more detailed information.
The group noted the responses of emergency services, local authority workers, state agencies, businesses and the public for their hard work and patience during the recent event. The NCG will meet again tomorrow to review matters and Local Authorities will continue to monitor river levels in the areas impacted.
The Chairman also requested that the public would continue to heed the safety warnings of the authorities.
The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergency events such as severe weather conditions through the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme. The situation on the ground is monitored and DSP staff engage with the Local Authorities and other agencies to ensure supports are being provided to those affected as swiftly as possible.
Departmental Officials can provide individuals with emergency payments to offset their immediate needs such as the purchase of food, clothing, fuel and household goods. People seeking assistance under the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme should contact their local Department of Social Protection office.