Better planning must accompany ‘Status Red’ weather warnings

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Better planning  must accompany ‘Status Red’ weather warnings

Recent snow storms has highlighted the need for a more comprehensive procedure to deal with these events.

A call has been made for more detailed preparatory procedures to deal with the issuing of Red Alert weather warnings.

Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has said  “The increase in the frequency of extreme weather events over recent years with Storm Ophelia, Storm Emma and the recent snow storms has highlighted the need for a more comprehensive procedure to deal with these events”, said Deputy Mac Sharry.

“Clearly the North West did not suffer to the same extent as other parts of the country; however the region was still issued with a status red weather warning. I understand that given the size of this country and the lack of absolute predictability in weather forecasting it is impossible to be area specific. However, this weather warning had a huge impact on the supply chain in the region.

“The growing dependency on multiple supermarkets and the centralised supply of perishable food, groceries and other products at just a handful of locations, mainly in the east of the country, left many stores, and consequently families, without certain products. Local family-run grocery stores were also affected by this centralised model.

“Measures must be put in place to ensure that when future weather events are forecast, all regions have access to adequate supplies rather than having to rely on a centralised distribution system.

“Equally, the closure of schools, Government Departments and State Agencies must be streamlined to permit areas which may be unaffected to have the discretion to continue as normal if conditions allow. Employers too, private and public must be issued with clear guidelines in this regard in consultation with worker representative groups. We had confusion during Storm Emma when a HSE memo was issued that employees would have to use annual leave days if they couldn’t make it into work – this direction was later retracted but this situation must be avoided into the future and a proper procedure must be negotiated around such matters.

“There can be no doubt our emergency services and community spirit put in a heroic display in the worst hit areas and all deserve great credit. The policy of ‘hoping for the best but planning for the worst’ is prudent but we should be able to put a more workable solution in place.

“As Spring takes hold I am calling on the Taoiseach to design and agree clear procedures so that we are better prepared and can show more agility on a community by community basis ahead of the next weather event”.