Editorial: Time to modernise our flood defence systems
Published 04/02/2014 | 02:30
Flooding is a perennial problem for householders and, according to the experts, it is going to get worse, with sudden if less frequent storm surges afflicting low-lying areas over the coming years.
Our sympathy must go out to the many people in Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, Galway and indeed to people everywhere who have seen their homes damaged or ruined over the last few days.
The authorities seemed ill-prepared for the deluge in some areas. There have been reports of people actually selling sandbags to desperate homeowners because the council either hadn't got any, or could not get them to flooded areas in time.
It is projected that €250m will be spent on 'flood defences' over the coming years, including €45m this year. Although this is a large amount of money it doesn't seem to be having the desired effect. A problem with flood defence is that remedial work often just pushes the problem further downriver, to another housing estate, village or town.
It is also becoming clear that while sandbags are a tried and tested solution, they are not able to cope with the extremes we have experienced in the last few months. It is surely time for local authorities to look at more up-to-date solutions such as the flood fighting system developed in Sweden in conjunctions with the country's rescue services.
Finally, there is the growing problem for many householders of house insurance. Because flooding has become such a problem, insurance companies are increasingly unwilling to re-insure anyone who lodges a flood claim, even in areas which never experienced flooding before. Insurance companies unprepared for risk must surely now stand accused of profiteering.