WEST Cork was hit last week by back-to-back storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin.
Dudley proved to be a gentle precursor compared to the force of Storm Eunice, which hit the shores of West Cork on Friday, and left more than 21,000 people without power. On Wednesday ESB crews travelled by helicopter to Dursey island to help restore the power lost last Friday. ESB Networks were still carrying out work on Sunday to restore power to 800 homes, businesses and farms, across 75 separate faults, in townlands around Bandon, Ballydehob, Timoleague, Castletownbere and Macroom. Crews were brought in from other areas to assist after Eunice’s damage, but their efforts were hampered by the stronger-than-expected Storm Franklin winds.
An ESB spokesperson confirmed that all customers were ‘back’ later that day apart from Dursey island.
ESB Networks said it could not estimate the cost of the storm damage, or the cost of the resources deployed to deal with them, at this stage.
Cork County Council confirmed that their crews cleared fallen trees in more than 70 locations in the county.
While the Council suspended the Dursey cable car for a time, islander Joseph Sullivan confirmed it is now back in operation.
At time of going to press, ESB crews were working on Dursey which had been without power from Friday til this Wednesday, and the two full-time inhabitants on the island, as well as farmers with homes and livestock on the island, were angry about the long delay in restoring power, according to Joseph.
The good news in the midst of the status orange warning for Dudley, the status red warning for Eunice, and the yellow wind warning for Franklin, is that Bantry, and other towns throughout West Cork, escaped flooding.
Council crews and members of Bantry Fire Station were on full alert from early Friday morning and just 15 minutes of pumping surface water prevented homes and businesses being affected.
Some locals were, however, annoyed that they were not notified about a blackout – for the purpose of fixing a repair – at about 8.30pm on Friday night.
The town – except for Bantry General Hospital and Bantry Garda Station – was plunged into darkness for about 40 minutes. Locals said the blackout also affected the street and traffic lights.
‘Occasionally, following severe weather, switching out of certain sections of the network is required to allow full repairs to be completed,’ said the ESB’s spokesperson.
‘We apologise to any locals who were inconvenienced by these works,’ he added, ‘but it was necessary to carry the repairs at short notice in order to restore power to the wider network.’
One West Cork business person gave an insight into the cost a disruption in power can have on a business.
To be without power for a single day, he said, cost his company €10,000 – taking the wage bill and the loss of earnings into consideration – but he admitted it would ‘probably be recouped over time.’
The human cost is a different matter. One older woman spoke to The Southern Star about having to stay in bed in order to stave off the bitter cold after her power supply was cut from 6am until midnight on Friday, which left her without heating and other utilities.
Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said special recognition is deserved for Council, ESB, Networks and emergency services – including lifeboat crews, the air ambulance service and the Civil Defence – ‘who risk their own safety to help others.’
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