Offaly “more than adequately prepared” for arrival of “Beast”

Thursday, 1 March 2018

WITH the "Beast from the East" expected to bite, the Midlands braced itself for plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfall in the coming days.

On Tuesday last, the Local Co-ordination Group, made up of local Gardai, HSE and Offaly County Council representatives met to review their "collective readiness" for this expectant severe weather as Storm Emma hits land.

Speaking to the Midland Tribune, Sean Murray, Director of Services with Offaly County Council outlined the management team of the local authority firstly met on Monday to review the "likely weather conditions" that are expected later this week. "Here, we reviewed our readiness from our point of view," he said.

Then, the local co-ordination group met to look at "our collective state of readiness for the forthcoming weather. We can report that each area reports that we are more than adequately prepared," he said. From Offaly County Council's point of view in terms of road materials, gritting and salting equipment, the director of services said it's "all in a state of readiness".

He went onto say the Garda Siochana were setting themselves up with structures to deal with it under their inspectors in Birr and Tullamore. "The Gardai are geared up for it. We are geared up for it and the HSE are prepared for it as well," he stated.

When asked about salt supplies, Mr Murray said the local authority had "more than enough salt". "We have weeks worth of salt and all the equipment has been been checked and is ready to go," he stressed. He then advised the Tribune that the local authority will work on a priority basis and will follow its normal salting routes, which he said are "fully publicised" on the council's website.

Also, if people wish to report any difficulties to the council during this severe weather, they can do so on (057) 93 48600 (during normal office hours) and on an emergency number 1890 750 750 (outside of office hours).

The director of service said the council will also keep the public updated on its website and will be "putting out real time updates and information" if people wish to keep an eye on it. Concluding, Mr Murray strongly advised people that if the weather conditions deteriorate, they should avoid making "unnecessary journeys" and if they must make a journey, they should drive "cautiously and defensively, respecting the conditions of the roads".

Inspector Maria Conway, of Portlaoise Garda Station, confirmed that all agencies had met in both Offaly and Laois to "put a plan in place" as how they will deal with the storm as it unfolds and said there would be further meetings today (Wednesday, February 28).

In preparation for the severe weather, Inspector Conway said "all agencies are prepared and up to speed and are ready to co-operate together in a joint approach".

In response to the Tribune, the HSE stated the position in relation to the status alerts is being monitored on a daily basis. "The Emergency Planning meetings are taking place between management and staff at local, regional and national level and will continue up to and including the weekend."

Meanwhile as Met Eireann issued a status yellow snow-ice warning for Offaly and Tipperary, many local organisations began to cancel events particularly those on Thursday and Friday and the local authority also closed the R440 between Kinnitty and Mountrath on Tuesday evening because of the risk of snow accumulations on the Slieve Bloom mountains.

With up to 3cm of snow forecast in Offaly on Wednesday morning and widespread frost and icy conditions expected, the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, offered clarity on the situation with regard to school closures as the country braced for the arrival of the "Beast from the East" when he took to Twitter on Tuesday last to say: "There is a status orange warming in place for this evening and overnight for counties. There's a yellow warning for some other counties. Decisions on school closures will be made locally by each school individually depending on the circumstances in their area."

The public is also advised to visit the website for advice on preparing for the oncoming weather and is advised also to check on vulnerable and isolated neighbours over the next couple of days.


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