Mr Ford said: “I want to pay tribute to all the hard working staff members who have worked tirelessly over the past few days to help all those affected by the current weather conditions.
“Despite the extreme wintry conditions in recent days, staff and engineers from all the main agencies have continued to work – often in treacherous conditions – to restore normality for all residents in Northern Ireland.
“I also want to praise the team work of all involved. NIE, Roads Service and ESB have worked together to clear roads and re-connect electricity supplies as efficiently as possible, especially in the more rural communities. The agencies have also been ably supported by their counterparts from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, whose staff members also deserve our gratitude.
“While they are doing all they can, it is worrying that Northern Ireland was not prepared for these extreme conditions and the long term damage inflicted on the farming community remains to be seen. This must be urgently addressed to ensure a similar situation does not arise in the future.”