STORM Ellen resulted in thousands of homes and businesses in East Clare being left without power and phone coverage, some for a number of days, as repair crews worked into last weekend to repair damage.
The situation, which caused serious inconvenience for local retailers and households over the course of last Thursday and Friday, prompted the Cathaoirleach of the Killlaoe Municipal District to call on the main operators of the fixed-line network to keep their customers better informed in terms of outages and repair times. Eir came in from considerable criticism from Councillor Pat Hayes, who said the company needed to do more to support customers the event of widespread outages.
“The power and phone outages caused real difficulties for people from Scariff, Mountshannon and out as far as Whitegate, after Storm Ellen,” he said. “The council and the Fire Service did a huge amount of work. The ESB, in fairness, were very helpful and, as always, responded as quickly as possible to the outages. The ESB have a system online and a PowerCheck app, that allow customers to see where the problems are on the network and to get an indication of when their supply will be restored. When it comes to outages on the Eir network, it’s a lot more difficult to get information. In one case, I had contact from someone who said that because she wasn’t an Eir customer, she was left in the dark about when service would be restored.”
The Fianna Fáil member paid tribute to repair crews including the local authority and the fire service for their efforts to keep the road network open in the aftermath of the storm.
Trees were cleared from a number of roads, including the main road from Scariff to Killaloe.
Local authority teams worked in conjunction with Clare Fire and Rescue Service, including members of the Killaloe Brigade, responding to call-outs over the course of last Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning. Crews continued to work over the following days to clear debris, worsened by the fact that trees are in leaf.
“We were very fortunate that there wasn’t more serious damage,” said Councillor Hayes. “As always, repair crews played a huge role in clearing the roads and ensuring that people could travel. The Killaloe Municipal District office was very much to the fore in the clean-up operations. It is unusual to have a storm of this nature at this time of year and hope that this is not the shape of things to come.”
A Status Orange warning was issued as the storm brought unseasonably wet and stormy weather for the month of August, with wind speeds of up to 110kmph. The ex-tropical storm battered the south-west tip of the country before tracking east and sweeping through the midlands. In the aftermath of the storm, up to 10,000 premises, most of them in east and south-east Clare, experienced power outages.