Kildare County, Ireland: The roof’s rattling, trees are falling and people are on a countdown to the electricity going down. But the weatherman says Hurricane Ophelia, which is supposedly the deadliest of storms the country has seen in 60 years, hasn’t peaked yet.
Ireland woke up a bit too early on Monday. While everyone made sure that they stayed indoors, Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with discussions on Ophelia. But the Irish are a cool bunch and they are unshaken. Pensioners seem excited about all the weather talk on TV, although all of them have chosen to stay in the comforts of their homes and stock up on candles.
Meanwhile, the Indian community here has taken the warnings quite seriously. Most of them rushed to stores to restock supplies Sunday evening in preparation for Ophelia. “My parents in Kerala were pretty worried after listening to the news. We are all staying indoors. Praying that it falls apart,” said Roshni Bijo, a Keralite nurse, who has been living in Ireland for the past 10 years.
Apparently, the last time Ireland endured such a monstrous storm was in 1961. “I remember the Debbi. That was really really bad. This one pales in comparison, ex-garda officer Robert Gallagher, 72, reminisced.
As people turn to their faith to weather the storm, the government has opened emergency shelter homes for the homeless in almost all counties.
As per estimates of the Ireland India Council, there are over 25,000 Indians in Ireland. As per 2006 estimates of the Central Statistic Office of Ireland, 8,329 Indian nationals were living in the Ireland.
About 210,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with more outages expected and almost 150 flights were canceled from Ireland's two main airports at Dublin and Shannon.
The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, was the worst to hit Ireland in half a century. It made landfall after 0940 GMT, the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 176 kph hitting the most southerly tip of the country and flooding likely.
(With inputs from Reuters)