Storm Ophelia Leaves Trail of Destruction in Ireland; Damages Could Reach $1.8B

By Peter Flanagan | October 17, 2017

Irish authorities will begin to clean up and count the cost of the worst storm to hit the country in more than 50 years, after Ophelia left a trail of destruction in its wake.

At least three people died in storm-related incidents, police said, while more than 350,000 homes and companies lost power. Telecoms company Eir reported “extensive damage” across its network, and roads across Ireland were blocked by felled trees. Schools will be closed for a second day on Tuesday and transport services continue to be disrupted.

“We are moving to post-hurricane stage — assessment and remediation,” Sean Hogan, the head of the government’s emergency response group, said. “We are moving on to the next stage.”

Ophelia is the strongest post-tropical system to rake Ireland since Hurricane Debbie in 1961, which killed 18 people. Damages from Ophelia in Ireland could reach $1.8 billion, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia, said. About a quarter of flights at Dublin airport were canceled.

“While it is too soon to give an estimate of the ultimate net cost of the storm to FBD, unfortunately given its severity, we can be sure that a number of our customers are affected,” Fiona Muldoon, chief executive officer of Dublin-based insurer FBD Holdings Plc, said an email statement.

While the clean up is just beginning, some politicians are already seeking European Union help. It will take about a week to restore electricity to all homes.

An EU Solidarity Fund will be “vital” to aid the recovery, Neale Richmond, a senator with the ruling Fine Gael party, said, “given the huge amount of damage inflicted across the country.”

“This will take time,” said Hogan.

–With assistance from Sonali Basak.

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