Authorities in Laois are 'preparing for the worst' as the ‘beast from the east’ weather front is set to hit Ireland hard this week, with salting trucks to run full time over several days.
With Met Éireann expecting to issue Status Red warnings this week, the council's chief executive Mr John Mulholland said the advice will be not to travel unless absolutely necessary, and to keep in touch with weather reports.
“This will affect agriculture, business and community events. We are preparing for the worst, we are getting our snowploughs into action, it is hard to fathom that at this time of year," the council CEO said.
Addressing Laois County Councillors on Monday, Mr Mulholland advised homeowners to prepare for burst pipes.
“On Wednesday and Thursday the daytime temperature will not rise above 0°. There is a strong risk this will lead to frozen pipes. Homeowners are advised to get familiar with where their isolation valves and stop cocks located,” he said.
The council's Director of Services Kieran Kehoe outlined plans for roads.
“The salt bank is full. We have 650 tonnes of salt for Laois, and another delivery on Wednesday. That will be another 180 tonnes, and there will be more again on Friday, effectively keeping it full,” he said at the February council meeting.
The council has six salting lorries to cover the five routes around the county, however they only cover main roads and urban areas.
“They will salt full time. Today and tomorrow we will be distributing salt to areas and strategic locations. Salt stores will be made available to the public, and the Irish Farmers Association have already offered huge support, in what we call the ‘last mile programme’,” Mr Kehoe said.
He warned drivers to “exercise extreme caution’ on the roads.
“Irrespective if they are salted or not, we are in for extreme snow, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday,” the council director said.
Keeping Laois council tenants warm is the priority for the housing department this week, the Housing Officer Michael Rainey has stated.
“Heating repairs will be our priority for the week. Any contractors we can get, we’ll be out there doing repairs,”he said.
The Severe Weather Crisis Management team in Laois was due to meet on Monday afternoon February 26. Led by Laois County Council, the team is also made of up Gardaí, Laois Fire and Rescue service, Civil Defence, roads and housing crews from the local authority.