An Arctic weather event known as ‘The Beast from the East’ coupled with the arrival of Storm Emma led to major disruption across Ireland as temperatures plummeted last week. Schools and businesses in Co. Roscommon closed early last Wednesday with many remaining closed on Thursday and Friday while a number of events in the county were also cancelled.
In a statement released earlier this week Roscommon County Council acknowledged the local response following the status red weather warning issued by Met Éireann last Wednesday night.
“Overnight snow and ice on Thursday night last (March 1st) together with strong easterly winds resulted in heavy snowfalls and drifts in the county particularly in Mid and South Roscommon. A number of roads were completely impassable due to these high snow drifts. Roscommon County Council crews started clearing primary and regional roads on Friday as soon as it was safe to do so and continued this work all over the weekend. There were a vast number of local secondary and minor roads to be cleared and presented many difficulties including narrow roads, hills and volume of snow.
“Roscommon County Council would like to acknowledge the work of the Local Emergency Response team who met regularly since last Thursday morning and the staff who ensured the public were kept informed of the situation. In particular, the Council would like to acknowledge and thank all of the front-line staff who worked throughout the weekend to clear roads, and to the local contractors, farmers and numerous volunteers who spent many hours clearing snowdrifts. Thanks to the Fire Services and Civil Defence personnel who also worked all weekend with the HSE and those in need of supplies”.
Roscommon University Hospital cancelled all patient appointments and clinics on Thursday and Friday, while the sitting of Roscommon Circuit Court was also cancelled. Sport throughout the county was also affected with local events postponed and both Allianz National League matches involving Roscommon teams called off.
The national water network was also severely affected with 6,800 people left without water in Galway and Leitrim alone while over 14,000 people were placed on storm related Boil Water Notices across the country.
Roscommon Civil Defence were placed on standby to provide transport and assistance during the cold weather until roads cold be cleared by Roscommon County Council on Friday and Saturday.
Chief Officer, Ray Dunne, praised the work of his volunteers.
“We kicked off on Wednesday when we got the call from the HSE and the Gardaí. We were straight into it on Thursday at 5.45 am bringing nursing staff to work and busy right through to 10 pm when we brought them home.
“On top of the transportation of frontline staff we also visited vulnerable members of the community who were stranded and brought them food parcels,” he said.
Roscommon Civil Defence worked the length and breadth of the county through Thursday and Friday as the Arctic conditions and the arrival of strong winds led to five foot snowdrifts in some places.
“There was very little north of the N5 but the south of the county got it bad. From Fourmilehouse to Ballyforan, Curraghboy and Rahara the place was a mess.
“We offered support to one doctor on the N61 who was stranded in his car. We managed to remove the car to safety nearby and get him to work in the hospital and then returned him to his car later”.
Mr. Dunne also had high praise for the local authority and the wider community in general.
“In fairness, it was trojan work from the council on Friday to keep it all going, including the council workers who were out keeping footpaths clear.
“None of our work would have been possible without the support of Roscommon County Council and Eugene Cummins (CEO) in providing us with the proper equipment including a new 4×4 recently.
“Overall, there was a huge effort from the whole community. We were out with vulnerable members of the community and local farmers and neighbours were there offering assistance. It was a huge commendable effort from the local community,” he added.
Meanwhile, the HSE in Roscommon and Galway released a statement thanking healthcare staff who “went above and beyond to deliver patient care during some very challenging days”.
“Many staff had to put the service needs first above their own personal and family needs during this period and for this we are very grateful.
“We would like to acknowledge the support of the National Ambulance Service, the Defence Forces, the Gardaí and Civil Defence in assisting with emergency transportation of patients and staff. We would also like to thank the local communities for the help and support they provided to us”.