Live: Decision expected on schools reopening later as Storm Barra continues to batter Cork

Latest updates on Storm Barra in Cork.
Live: Decision expected on schools reopening later as Storm Barra continues to batter Cork

Workers maneuver a generator to help pump away floodwater in Bantry, County Cork after Storm Barra hit the UK and Ireland with disruptive winds, heavy rain and snow.

Latest: 

The Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has said that a decision on the reopening of schools will be decided upon later this afternoon.

Schools across the country are closed today during Storm Barra and a decision on whether they will reopen their doors tomorrow is expected later today.

The minister said that the Minister for Education Norma Foley is due to take further advice from Met Éireann in consultation with the National Emergency Coordination Group and that a decision will be made “on or around 6pm”.

Speaking to The Echo, principal of Kinsale Community School, Fergal McCarthy, said that the expertise developed by teachers during the emergency response to Covid and the provision of online teaching and learning during the pandemic allowed the students to still take part in online learning today.

"When notification came to schools late yesterday afternoon, schools were automatically in a position to invoke teams or invoke whatever platform that they have for engaging with students in the online space and all of our classes today went ahead, synchronous to the timetable and the engagement by the students is at a very very high level.

"So, it wasn't a lost day, it was a day that teaching and learning occurred, just through a different modality.

"The secret to that is to maintain the blended approach when we are in school so that the confidences that we acquired never get lost and so then you'd a very seamless transition today to an online space, an in-person space yesterday and an in-person space again tomorrow.

"We're very appreciative of staff for demonstrating that type of agility and for students that demonstrated that type of adaptability in respect of their own learning," he said.

Principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís Aaron Wolfe said that while the storm seems to have calmed this afternoon, that the worry in the morning would be "any damage that is caused overnight and it not being safe to travel".

Minister O'Brien also warned people to remain vigilant and not to take any unnecessary trips later today.

He said that the storm is as was predicted and is as severe as was forecast by Met Éireann and that Government response is in place across all local authorities across the country, including State agencies.

The minister said that while minimal damage and minimal flooding has been experienced, that the storm “is not over” and warned people not to be complacent while red, orange and yellow warnings were still in place.

He said that Storm Barra is a “multi-hazard event” with high winds, high tides and exceptional rainfall bringing with it a risk of coastal, river and surface flooding.

Minister O’Brien thanked those involved in the response to the storm, including the National Emergency Coordination group, all the agencies involved, the emergency services and local authorities across the country who he said have allowed the country to “mitigate some of the damage and the risk that may have presented itself” by preparing for the event since last Friday.

 The flood water reached Pembroke Street in Cork after an early morning high tide. Picture Dan Linehan
The flood water reached Pembroke Street in Cork after an early morning high tide. Picture Dan Linehan

Earlier:

Cork City Council has renewed its appeal to people to stay at home during the current red weather warning with winds of 80-130km per hour expected to continue throughout today.

An intense period of severe wind is expected in the coming hours and the red wind alert remains in place until 9pm this evening.

This lunchtime, Cork City Council said at least 12 fallen trees had been reported across the city and powerlines have also fallen.

Cork City Fire Brigade and ESB crews are busy responding to incidents across the city.

Earlier today, Cork City Council had to close a road at Kilcully due to dangerous powerlines.

Cork City Council activated its Severe Weather Plan yesterday and its Crisis Management Team met again this morning.

Due to the forecasted heavy rainfall and red wind warning, Cork City Council is advising the public:

  • Stay at home. Don’t make any unnecessary journeys.
  • If you must travel, take care when driving as conditions will be hazardous.
  • Stay away from exposed quays, coasts, rivers and lakes.
  • Stay away from any fallen electricity lines or trees. Watch out for fallen debris.
  • Take measures to secure any loose outdoor items such as temporary structures, Christmas decorations, trampolines etc Householders and builders should secure all construction sites.
  • Continue to monitor Met Eireann and Cork City Council social media and websites for updates 
  • It said a number of road closures and traffic restrictions are necessary and any restrictions will be eased as appropriate.
  • In case of an emergency, please ring the emergency services on 999 or 112.

Cork City Council’s Customer Service Unit (CSU) is operating from 7.00am until 7.00pm today. 

The CSU can be contacted on 021-4924000 and can deal with non-emergency issues.

Any incident involving the downing of power cables, damaged and sparking power cables etc. should be reported both directly to the ESB Networks on 1800 372 999 and to the Emergency Services.

Cork Cork County Council’s Severe Weather Assessment Team and Crisis Management Team also convened this morning.

It said that at this time the worst affected area in Cork county is Bantry, where 28 primarily commercial premises were affected this morning by high tide.

The water has now receded with the next high tide not expected to have a similar effect.

Flooding also occurred on the Back Street in Youghal which has receded.

Cork County Council said it is aware of instances of fallen cables, trees and debris together with roads flooded across the county.

The R571 between Castletownbere and Eyeries is impassable and has been closed. 

Members of the public are being asked to avoid unnecessary travel and remain indoors.

Council crews remain on standby with services curtailed to respond to any life-threatening or critical incidents that might arise.

Online services continue to be delivered with staff operating remotely.

Longfields Bridge and Killavullen Bridge are currently closed. 

The Dursey Cable Car remains closed and will reopen following inspection.

Issues such as fallen trees, flooding and road damage in the county should be reported by calling 021 4276891 between 9am and 5pm or via the Council’s Emergency Out of Hours number 021 4800048.

Earlier:

More than 4,000 properties across Cork city and county remain without power this morning. 

The largest of the outages is in the Bishopstown area where more than 1,500 properties are without power, followed by Cobh where 1,551 properties are without power.

ESB Networks is estimating that power will not be restored in Bishopstown until 9pm and until 6.15pm in Cobh.

A large outage is also affecting people in the Lee Bridge area where around 800 properties are without power. 

Outages are also being reported in Carrigaline, Mayfield, and Macroom, among other areas. 

In West Cork, almost 500 properties without power in Castletownbere and further properties are without power in Bantry and Skibbereen. 

An Post has advised that all Post Offices will remain closed and there will be no mail deliveries or collections in any part of Cork today.

It said it will continue to monitor the situation and provided conditions are safe for its staff and postmasters, it expects all services to resume tomorrow, Wednesday.

Any Childrens’s Allowance payments due for payment today, will be paid at Post Offices tomorrow, it said. 

Meanwhile, the Port of Cork has issued a warning to people to stay safe and to stay away from the edge of coastal areas including marinas, piers and quay walls.

Cork Airport has confirmed that it remains open today but a number of flights have been cancelled.

Met Éireann is reporting that a gust reaching 124 km/h has been recorded at Sherkin Island while a gust of 111 km/h was recorded at Roches Point. 

Passengers are advised to check the status of their flights by clicking here. This morning, both Aer Lingus and KLM’s flights from Cork Aiport to Amsterdam were cancelled, as well as Aer Lingus and British Airways’ Cork to London-Heathrow flights.

Irish Rail has confirmed that all Cork services are still operating but advised that some delays may occur due to the storm.

Reduced speeds are in operation between Mallow and Cork/Tralee as a safety precaution. Delays of up to 30 minutes are expected and passengers are asked to consider if their journey is necessary.

 

All Bus Éireann services in Cork are suspended for the day. All Cork city routes are cancelled – 201, 202, 202a, 203, 205, 206, 207, 207a, 208, 209, 209a, 212, 213, 214, 215, 215a, 216, 219, 220, 220x, 223, 223x, 225, 225L and 226.

Cork commuter routes are also cancelled – 226, 226x, 233, 235, 236, 237,239, 240, 241, 243, 245, 245X, 248, 257, 258, 260 and 261.

Route 220 will be suspended from 3am on Tuesday, December 7 and will recommence from 5am on Wednesday, December 8.

All school transport services have also been cancelled.

Aircoach has advised that there will be some disruption to the 704X service expected following the red warning issued by Met Éireann for the Cork area.

Aircoach advised that people should only consider travelling if their journey is necessary.

It said that the late notification of delays and cancellations is possible.

Previous:

Cork County Council’s Severe Weather Assessment Team and Crisis Management Team will convene this morning as updates are received in relation to any incidents across the county caused by Storm Barra.

At this time the worst affected area in Cork County is Bantry, with an estimated 23 premises affected this morning at high tide from 5.30am onwards.

While high tide in Bantry was at 6.39am, the tide is likely to remain high for a number of hours due to the storm and wave action.

Flooding also occurred on the Back Street in Youghal which is now receding and there are multiple reports of trees down and roads flooded throughout the county.

Cork County Council crews have been on standby throughout the night with sandbags deployed and pumps in operation across known flood risk areas.

Cork County Council has advised people that Cork remains under a Met Éireann Red Wind Warning until 9pm tonight as Storm Barra travels across the country.

Dangerous conditions are being experienced at sea with marine warnings in place along all Irish coasts, including a Red Marine Warning for southwestern sea areas. A Yellow Rain Warning is also in effect with the strong winds accompanied by heavy rain.

Cork County Council continues to ask members of the public to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary activity. 

More than 3,300 properties are without power in Cork this morning as a further 1,234 properties in the greater Macroom area are now without power.

ESB Networks estimates that power will be restored in the area around 12.15pm.

A power outage is affecting 64 properties in the Foxhole area with an estimated restoration time of 12 noon.

Around 500 properties in Castletownbere remain without power, 1,522 in Bishopstown and 48 in Mayfield.

Meanwhile, flooding in Cork city centre has receded and it is expected that there will be no more water on city centre streets within the next half an hour.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland this morning, the Director of Services and Operations with Cork City Council, David Joyce, said that the vast majority of properties had taken the opportunity to protect themselves from flooding this morning.

Surface water on Oliver Plunkett Street as Strom Barra hits Cork city. Picture: Eoin O'Sullivan/Twitter.
Surface water on Oliver Plunkett Street as Strom Barra hits Cork city. Picture: Eoin O'Sullivan/Twitter.

“They had either gotten their own sandbags, gotten sandbags off the local authority or have more permanent flood defense protection structures that they can put in place so all that was in place.

At present, the water is receding quickly and we expect within the next half an hour that there’ll be no more water in any of the city centre streets.

“Surprisingly dry that it is very very windy and that it is important to note that there is three separate hazards being faced today, the first being the tidal floods, but there is still a red warning in place in Cork from 6am this morning until 9pm this evening and we would still be encouraging people not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary because while the tidal hazard has passed there is still a significant wind hazard for the rest of the day across the city,” he said.

High tide passed in Cork city centre with flood waters flowing across South Mall from the riverside quays at Morrisons Island.

The flood water reached streets such as Pembroke Street and Phoenix Street but did not impact on properties.

Traffic on Lavitts Quay was reduced to one lane before high tide due to flood waters. Wandesford Quay was also closed off to traffic in the run-up to high tide.

Elsewhere in Cork, some street flooding in Youghal is affecting premises in the town. Flooding reported on Bailick Road in Midleton is not affecting any premises.

The R-572-182, serving the townlands of Cappanaparka East and Adrigole is currently impassable due to flooding.

Transport

Irish Rail has this morning announced that all services are currently operating on all routes but advised that some delays may occur due to storm effects.

Reduced speeds are in operation between Mallow and Cork/Tralee as a safety precaution. Delays of up to 30 minutes are expected and passengers are asked to consider if their journey is necessary.

Power outages

More than 3,300 properties are without power in Cork this morning as a further 1,234 properties in the greater Macroom area are now without power.

ESB Networks estimates that power will be restored in the area around 12.15pm.

A power outage is affecting 64 properties in the Foxhole area with an estimated restoration time of 12 noon.

Around 500 properties in Castletownbere remain without power, 1,522 in Bishopstown and 48 in Mayfield.

Earlier:

More than 1,200 properties in West Cork are without power this morning. 

ESB Networks says 1,286 in the Castletownbere area are affected. 

It is estimated that power will be restored around 10.45am. 

1,522 properties in the Bishopstown area are currently without power due to a fault. 

ESB Networks says it is anticipated that power will be restored around 7.30am.

In the region of 50 properties in the Mayfield area are without power with an estimated restoration time of 10.15am.

A status red warning came into effect in Cork at 6am this morning with Met Éireann warning that Storm Barra will bring disruptive weather with winds will reach in excess of 80 km/h today with severe or damaging gusts in excess of 130km/h.

Met Éireann said a gust of 98km/hr was recorded at Roche's Point this morning. 

Due to a combination of high waves, storm surge and high tide, it said that coastal flooding is expected.

The warning remains in place until 9pm with an orange wind warning expected to remain until 6am Wednesday.

A yellow rain warning is also in place nationwide until 6pm on Wednesday, as the strong winds from Storm Barra are accompanied by heavy rain.

Flood concerns 

Flooding is being reported in a number of parts of Cork city and county this morning. 

High tide occured at7.24am this morning and Cork City Council had warned that in addition to the weather warnings flooding was also likely due to very high astronomical Spring Tides this morning.

Flooding has already been reported in a number of areas including South Mall and Lavitt's Quay.

Cork County Council crews are onsite in Bantry this morning where flooding has occurred. 

Road closures 

A number of roads are closed or impassable this morning due to floods including the: 

Road N-71-483 (Townlands on this road are: Seafield, Town Lots, Newtown)

Road R-621-0 (Townlands on this road are: Kilvealaton West, Newberry, Gortnagross.)

Closures 

Numerous disruptions to services in Cork today have been announced due to Storm Barra.

The Department of Education advised that all schools covered by the red alert and orange warning from Met Éireann should not open today.

There will also be disruptions to travel, including the cancellation of all Bus Éireann services in Cork, some flights and the Black Ash Park and Ride.

The public has also been advised of disruption to health services in Cork today including the closure of all Covid-19 vaccination centres and test centres.

The South/South West Hospital Group (S/SWHG) is advising that all elective inpatient and outpatient appointments and procedures in Cork University Hospital, Bantry General Hospital, Mallow General Hospital, Mercy University Hospital, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital and University Hospital Kerry are cancelled with the exception of time critical cases.

These appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

All Covid-19 vaccination centres and test centres in Cork will be closed tomorrow.

Day services (for older people, in disability services and in mental health services) are closed and most appointments at health centres and primary care centres are not going ahead. The public has been asked not to travel to any appointment or service without checking first.

A wide range of shops and other services are also closed. 

Advice

The National Directorate for Fire & Emergency Management’s Crisis Management Team is advising people to: 

  • Stay away from all coastal areas for the duration of the Met Éireann warnings 
  • All road users should be aware of the hazardous traveling conditions, and only necessary journeys should be undertaken. Motorists should slow down and be aware of the dangers of fallen trees and debris. Cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and High sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable during this time.
  • As conditions will vary throughout the event, people need to take account of the local conditions and advice from their Local Authority.
  • The public are warned electricity wires are always live, never approach. If you see fallen or damaged wires, keep clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1800 372 999/021 238 2410 Should red level warnings be issued, the public are advised to shelter in place for the duration of the warning.
  • Keep your mobile phone charged. Mobile phones can connect to the 999 service on any operators network so even where you do not have coverage on your own network it may still be possible to make a 999 call.
  • Follow HSA safety advice regarding the use of tools and equipment during and after the storm.

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