You and your Community
The Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) has a unique role to play in fostering the links that bring communities together. Our mission is to “promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland.” For more information on our work, please see www.drcd.gov.ie
Strengthening community links helps to improve preparedness for emergencies. Experience has shown that active preparation leads to a better response in an emergency, which in turn, leads to the best possible outcome for all concerned. This preparedness enables the community to come together to use locally identified resources (people and equipment) during an emergency affecting their community, such as the flooding and heavy snowfall of recent years.
Although the response to challenging weather events is coordinated by the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP), communities have an important role to play in emergencies. Central to this is neighbours knowing each other and working together. Being prepared, knowing your neighbours and working together will help to ensure that you and your community are winter ready in the months ahead.
Know Your Community
Is your community based around an apartment building, a housing estate, a street, a road or a village? Is there a local residents’ association or community alert group?
Do you have your neighbours’ contact details? How can you help each other? For example, do you or your neighbour have an off-road vehicle or medical experience?
What emergencies might your community have to plan for? For example, fire, flooding, snow, power outage, water shortage or accessibility problems.
Are some of your neighbours particularly vulnerable? For example, older people, people with disabilities or mobility problems, neighbours with young children or people without access to transport.
Check on your older relatives and neighbours
- If it’s difficult for you to get around it will be impossible for them.
- Do you have their phone number(s)?
- Phone them or call around
- Make sure they have enough fuel, food supplies and necessary medications
- If in doubt call the Gardaí and ask them to check
Available Supports for Communities
Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS)
Are seniors in your area aware of the Seniors Alert Scheme? The SAS supplies emergency alarm pendants for seniors. For further information, please visit www.pobal.ie
CLÁR ProgrammeThe Department of Rural and Community Development has provided funding under the CLÁR programme to provide support for emergency responders in disadvantaged rural areas.Details on eligibility and the application process are published on the Department’s website www.drcd.gov.ie
Ireland has a strong tradition of volunteer activity. From checking in on vulnera- ble neighbours to staffing helplines, formal and informal volunteers have made a huge contribution during recent extreme weather events. For more information on how you can contribute to your community, please see www.volunteer.ie
Communities Working Together
Irish communities have faced several extreme weather events in the recent past. These extreme weather events have caused millions of euro worth of damage and disrupted the supply of electricity and water to hundreds of thousands of households nationwide.
To minimise the impact of future extreme weather events, we must prepare together and understand the practical steps that we can take to protect ourselves and our communities. Recent surveys carried out show that while growing numbers of people are taking steps to prepare for winter each year, further improvement is possible. We need to grow awareness of the threats we face, as well as the solutions and supports that are available to us.
Many of the steps we can take are quite simple, for example, acquiring a high visibility vest and keeping a stock of bottled water. Communities have valuable local knowledge, for instance, where black ice tends to form on roads. As part of their Winter Service Plans, several local authorities nationwide provide salt bins and a fill of salt to community groups as well as making grit available at multiple locations. Can you volunteer to spread salt or grit on minor roads in your area to keep them open? If your area is prone to flooding, are sandbags available nearby? Do you know who to contact in the local authority to get these provisions?
We need to become better informed to be winter ready, but more than this, we need to be proactive and act on the information that we have. It is crucial to take the time to consider our situation this winter and make the necessary preparations, individually and as communities.
Our message is simple. We need to be informed, prepare in advance and work together in our communities to be winter ready each year. Irish communities have successfully faced extreme weather events in the past, and we will continue to remain alert and prepare for future challenges moving forward.