Is there a townland or a village that didn’t have trees uprooted yesterday by the ferocity of Storm Ali? With schools and offices opened, with tens of thousands of people on the roads, it is mind boggling that none of those trees that fell, did so on top of a car, or a schoolbus, a pedestrian, or a cyclist.
For many, the trip to work or school yesterday morning was perilous. Before last year, we never really have had storms of that ferocity at this time; when the trees are at their fullest, fat with leaves, which do not step aside to let the wind pass through. Instead they act as buffers to the high gusts that are becoming more commonplace as extreme weather becomes the norm.
As news broke of the sad event at Claddaghduff which saw a Swisswoman lose her life, the realisation sank in that this was no ordinary Orange Alert, that the wind speeds were higher than what were expected, and that we were not rightly prepared for it all.
Perhaps the proliferation of storm warnings last year has made us all a little colourblind when it comes to storms, the public, forecasters, Government departments. Perhaps we think that if it’s a red enough shade of red, that we’ll have heard about it.
Two people died in yesterday’s storm — yet it is miraculous that more did not.
And in the height of yesterday’s storm comes the realisation that our emergency services were there again to make sure that we were minded.
It is important to feel minded, to feel cared for. In the main, we all strut around with no notion of the need to be minded until the need arises. It is only when you are at your most vulnerable, ill, poor, striving to find self-worth, that you realise the importance of those professions which set out as their goal the preservation of our safety, our stability, and our health.
Yesterday again we all felt minded. It was a time again when a great natural peril was on our doorsteps, something to which we are now becoming more accustomed
Because of our increasing familiarity with extreme weather, we are more and more indebted to those who are instructed to mind us. The emergency services, the ambulance drivers, the fire crews, the council workers, the gardai. And the many people who volunteer to clear our roads, to soothe our anxiety, to spread the news.
To those who risked their lives and will continue to do so for the next few days while they repair the damage caused, we say a big thank you and a reminder that what you do is noticed, is felt, and is appreciated. So when you are pulling on your waders to get into that dinghy, or unravelling the hoses on the fire engine, or stocking the medicines in that ambulance, please remember that although you do it as a job, the rest of us see you going above and beyond the call of duty.
For that, we are thankful.