The Government must wake up to the ongoing weather crisis and direct the Emergency Planning Office to immediately spearhead a coordinated response to the isolation of people and the lack of water supplies, according to local Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten.
“To date neither the Government nor the Emergency Planning Office has acknowledged the serious nature of the recent severe weather we have experienced. The lack of any centralised planning has now led to a situation where council supplies of salt and grit are dangerously low, resulting in people being marooned in their homes and in roads becoming so treacherous in some areas that even emergency service vehicles have been involved in accidents,” said Deputy Naughten.
“Even the National Roads Authority is warning about the current lack of coordination. Unless we have a coordinated and planned response for all State agencies, lives will be put at risk, both on the roads and in isolated rural homes.”
With forecasters predicting more severe frost over the next week, it is vital that the Government starts coordinating a national response, according to Deputy Naughten.
“The current system whereby local authorities act independently has seen large areas left without any salt or grit supplies to make roads passable. Someone in Government needs to wake up to the serious nature of this crisis.
“Some elderly people and families are now facing into their third week of being marooned in their homes. Others do not have access to public water and food supplies are running low. Older people living on their own are now facing their third week without access to community nurses, home help, and meals on wheels and I would urge neighbours to check that they have adequate food and fuel and that they are keeping warm.
“It is now three weeks since the first severe weather warnings were issued yet the Government has remained on holidays. It is vital that no more time is lost. While people in rural communities don’t expect local roads to be gritted at the first sign of frost, we now have a situation where some people are now facing a fourth week of being marooned.
“With weather forecasts giving ample warning of arctic conditions, the Government should have engaged the emergency planning office to coordinate State service providers and make emergency contact numbers available, in a similar manner to that employed during the recent flooding.
“Roads remain in a lethal state with people struggling to return to work, and this situation could get far worse when the schools re-open.”