Sunday 20 October 2019

Facing a flood risk? Then buy your own sandbags

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

HOUSEHOLDERS living in Dublin will have to buy their own sandbags if they want to avoid being flooded.

In the latest bizarre cutback, Dublin City Council has told householders living in flood risk areas it doesn't have any money to buy sandbags from the start of January.

The council has even suggested that those living in at-risk properties buy expensive water-tight barriers for the doors and windows.

Until now the council kept strategic stocks of 9,000 sandbags at a small number of locations around the city.

But it now says that there has been extensive over-reliance on sandbags as they have proved "of little value in protecting against flooding."

In a report into the October "monster rain" flooding that caused two deaths and flooded more than 1,000 homes, the council says: "During a flood, panic generally sets in, and those who are not in risk of flood could easily exhaust the supply of bags at the expense of those in need."

Crucially the council admits that it has no money in its 2012 budget to buy sandbags.

Instead, it advises property owners to stock up on " empty sandbags together with sufficient stocks of sand to fill bags at times."

The report adds: "Preferably owners should invest in the provision of suitable proprietary flood gates and covers to protect openings such as doors, windows and vents."

The report also reveals that floodgates were left open during last October's "monster rain" because council staff could not get the keys to access the special locking pins needed to close the barriers.

The locking pins were being stored in a kiosk beside the Aviva Stadium in Dublin near the River Dodder floodgates.

But Dublin City Council drainage staff -- who have responsibility for opening and closing the floodgates -- could not access them on October 24 until well into the night, according to a Dublin City Council report released yesterday.

The three tidal floodgates are located across the River Dodder at Londonbridge Road, Lansdowne Village and Newbridge Avenue, near Lansdowne Road in Dublin 4.


They are designed to prevent inland flooding by diverting and releasing water from the river into the sea while preventing water from a high tide pushing upstream.

The floodgates are adjustable so that they can control water flow to and from rivers or stop it entirely during a storm.

A major emergency plan had been in place for at least two hours at that stage and the gates were not closed as council staff were not able to get the keys needed to access the special locking pins for the barriers.

The two demountable flood barriers on the Aviva Stadium side of the Dodder were eventually erected at about 10.30pm but a major emergency plan had been in place for at least two hours at that stage.

"There was a delay in closing the tidal flood gates as difficulties were encountered in retrieving the locking pins which were stored in a kiosk adjacent to the Aviva Stadium," the report by assistant city manager Seamus Lyons said.

"The drainage division has reviewed its protocol for closure of these gates and will be closing the gates on foot of both tidal and pluvial (rainfall) adverse weather forecasts subject to staff availability."

Some 1,008 reports of property flooding and 318 reports of significant road flooding were received and two people in Wicklow and Dublin died.

Mr Lyons said a group had been set up to review the flood, which affected the East Region, including Wicklow, South Dublin County, Dublin City and Monaghan in particular. Dun Laoghaire, Kildare and Fingal were less severely impacted.

The report points out that rainfall of up to 90mm over a four to six hour period was a very unusual occurrence. "Most rainfall events in Ireland will give typically 5mm-10mm of rain in total, perhaps up to 20mm for the heavier events."

Irish Independent

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