Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Plan now to cope with next storm

A new week has begun, and still the aftermath of the recent bad weather poses major problems, with little prospect of a respite.

This latest setback in our long winter has made demands on everyone, with huge snowdrifts, schools closed, transport disrupted, sporting and social engagements cancelled, and a general air of apprehension everywhere.

A major casualty is the infrastructure of the province, where thousands of homes have been without electricity and where people are still in great need of assistance.

Engineers have been brought in from Scotland and the Irish Republic to help out, and this is yet further evidence that our local resources are still inadequate to deal with the winter storms.

Our farmers are facing unprecedented challenges in the lambing season which has been so badly disrupted, and they face possible financial disaster if this continues. The low profile of the Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill in the midst of this crisis is not good for farmers' morale either.

Despite all the warnings from the past, and the promises that the authorities were geared to cope with the worst, we still have much to learn.

Many people are using all their energies to overcome the current challenges, but this latest onslaught will provide more lessons about the need for our energy infrastructure to be modernised to deal with the worst that comes our way.

Proper planning and investment now will save money in the long run.

Tributes are also due to people in the roads and rescue services who are doing all they can to help others in dire straits. The severe conditions require great courage and skill among those who are helping others, and they all deserve our thanks.

The bad weather looks like continuing, and this will provide opportunities for people to be good neighbours to one another. Everyone should keep an eye open for the elderly and others who need help with heating or food and other supplies.

During this very difficult period a little neighbourly help can go a long way.

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