Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon paid tribute this week to the unsung efforts of all those involved in the emergency relief response during the height of Storm Emma.
Mr Mahon said despite the worst of the inclement conditions only hitting home last Thursday, work to combat its effects was only now starting to abate.
He conceded the Council had endured one of its most “challenging and eventful” weeks but one in which altruism and fortitude held sway.
“The county spent six days over the last week under an orange or red weather warning as we experienced a combination of Siberian winter conditions and Atlantic Storm Emma which brought snow and blizzards not seen in the County for many years,” he said in a statement to the Leader.
Mr Mahon said over 100 of the Council’s own staffing roster had been out braving the elements for eight consecutive days, ably supported by many of the local authority’s 18 elected members.
“Our employees were dealing with road gritting and snow ploughing, water services, emergency response, communications, taking calls from the public, liaison with the Public Participation Network, liaison with the Defence Forces and reporting to the National Emergency Coordination Group.
“Throughout the event Longford County Council gritted over 350 km of roads on 12 occasions using over 700 tonnes of salt and, with the assistance of our contractors, ploughed an unquantifiable amount of snow to ensure that the County was open for business on Monday of this week.
“In this we were supported by the many communities in County Longford who worked to clear snow from many of the local roads around the County.”
There were compliments too aimed in the direction of the Council’s water and fire services divisions in responding to requests and call outs by members of the public.
This, he said, was underwritten by a specially devised Severe Weather Committee inside the Council which met no fewer than 10 times and which was supported by the local authority’s own Information Systems team.
“The Council also received excellent support from the Defence Forces in transporting HSE Staff and Carers throughout the County, in delivering meals on wheels and in clearing footpaths in our main towns.
“Throughout the last week the Council was able to communicate with and update our communities with regular briefings by our communications team via local and national media, via our website, via the Public Participation Network and through social media,” he said.
To emphasise that point, Mr Mahon told of how over 73,000 “tweet impressions” were charted on its own Twitter account compared to a more customary 2,800 weekly average.
Together with a larger than expected surge to its home webpage, Mr Mahon said the increase validated the benefits technology can bring in supporting communities with up to date information during times of crisis.
“Longford County Council would like to thank and acknowledge the many groups and individuals whose efforts over this period ensured that the effects of the severe weather event were kept to a minimum,” he added.
“The old Irish tradition of meitheal where people in rural communities gather together in times of crisis, to support and help one another is alive and well in County Longford.”
From the exhaustive and self-sacrificing evidence on show throughout the county over the past week or so, he might not be far wrong.
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