Councillors commended the many groups and organisations who took part in the response to Storm Emma and ‘The Beast from the East’ last weekend.
Mayor Aengus O’Rourke opened Monday’s meeting of the Municipal District by thanking all those who responded to guide Athlone through the most extreme conditions witnessed since the big freeze of 2010.
Prior to the meeting, Mayor O’Rourke issued a statement which read: “The past week has been a trying time for most as the weather took its toll on electricity supply, travel and the supply of mains water. However, I would like to sincerely thank our emergency services for their work particularly since Wednesday evening of last week: The Gardaí, the army, our ambulance service, doctors and healthcare staff, Fire & Rescue, ESB crews, Civil Defence, outdoor council staff, Irish Water and anyone who helped to support our community during these past few days.”
Providing an update on the recovery process taking place, the mayor said work is still ongoing to replenish reservoirs and urged the public to conserve water as much as possible.
District engineer Pat Gallagher said that as of Monday all national and most regional roads had been cleared. The remaining regional roads were passable with caution by then, he added.
However, Mr Gallagher added that the council had received a number of calls as late as Monday morning from people still cut off in their homes. They had, he said, only just made contact, and the council was working to help them.
Independent councillor Michael O’Brien commended the council staff who contributed to the effort last week and into the weekend. He noted that many involved are from rural areas, and so it was not easy for them to make themselves available to help.
His sentiment was echoed by Cllr Paul Hogan, who also praised local farmers who gave their time freely to clear roads of snow and ice.
Councillors Michael O’Brien, Tom Farrell (FG ) and John Dolan (FG ) all raised the issue of insurance. The councillors said they had been contacted by people during the extreme weather who were willing to remove snow from public areas, but were afraid to do so should they be personally liable if an accident occurred afterwards.
Director of services Barry Kehoe said no person is liable in a case of this kind, so long as they do not create an additional hazard in the process.
Mr Kehoe also praised the various agencies and organisations involved in the effort, while also thanking district engineer Pat Nally, all the council staff and private contractors who gave their time to ensure the safety of others.