'Perfect storm' will cause havoc for businesses again if nothing is done
RTÉ's Teresa Mannion's weather report from Salthill in 2015 gave the nation a taste of the devastating damage from storms and flood waters hitting Galway.
But for many living in the City of the Tribes, it is a reoccurring reality.
Residents and businesses across the most vulnerable parts of the city, including Flood Street and Quay Lane, are often warned to brace themselves for high tides spilling into the streets.
Alison McArdle owner of the Cupán Tae tearooms, says that once flood waters rush into the area, no business can escape the devastation.
Located on Quay Lane by the River Corrib, Ms McArdle set up her café six years ago, but was unable to get insurance due to the high risk of flooding.
"If one business gets flooded around here, then we all do. We moved in knowing the risks, but were reassured that the premises had not been seriously flooded in 10 years," she said.
But in 2014, Cupán Tae suffered three days of flooding due to a combination of high tides and heavy rainfall.
"We lost a huge amount of stock, including hundreds of kilos of tea leaves. All of our electrics broke and everything at ground level was ruined. We had to close only for a couple of days, but luckily we got back in business pretty quickly.
"We just want the council to react immediately when things like this happen, which wasn't the case in 2014."
The Office of Public Works (OPW) said that defences to protect Galway City and Salthill would cost some €9.5m to install, and protect 890 properties.
Flood Defence Works Interactive Map
This tool sets out the cost of installing flood defences, the damages which might arise and number of properties under threat, in the most at-risk areas across the State.
It is based on data from the draft Flood Risk Management Plans, produced by the Office of Public Works (OPW), following extensive surveys of 90 coastal communities, and more than 6,500kms of river channel.
The country is divided into 29 Units of Management (UoMs), which are areas covered by a single river basin or covered by a group of smaller rivers. Given its size, works required along the Shannon are set out in three UoM.
Clicking on the icons show the works required in each area.
The urban area is highlighted at the top, and the UoM beneath. The cost of proposed works is set out in €m. The ‘damage uncapped’ figure relates to the total cost of damages to properties and infrastructure which would arise if nothing was done.
The ‘damage’ figure is based on the value of the properties at risk. This figure is used to determine if a scheme should go ahead – if the cost of the damage is less than the cost of providing defences, the scheme may not go ahead. This is the cost-benefit ratio. If it’s less than one, the scheme doesn’t make financial sense.
The final figure is the number of properties protected.
Some icons contain less information. For example, Tullig in Kerry is part of the Castleisland flood defence scheme so no information is contained. The OPW has also identified other areas as being at low risk, or says the existing flood defence regime should be maintained. In other cases it notes the need for a forecasting system, or says if a scheme is underway.
Further information is at http://maps.opw.ie/floodplans/
The problem is these figures don't stack up. In order for the scheme to be viable, the overall budget has to be substantially more than the cost of the estimated damage. Damages are put at €8.2m if nothing is done.
Options for flood prevention measures include quay defence walls and embankments along Long Walk, Spanish Arch and the Claddagh, some up to 1.2m high. Defences along the Dyke Road need to be strengthened to protect the city's water supply, and works are also needed on the Eglington Canal.
In Salthill, rock armour is proposed. Some roads may need to be raised including the Grattan Road.
The city council said that bespoke and more expensive flood wall finishes and approaches "would be desirable in the protected conservation areas". These include glass-panelled flood-retaining walls and self-closing barriers, but this would increase costs and could "limit the potential" for OPW funding.
Niall McNelis, who owns Claddagh and Celtic Jewellery on Quay Lane, described 2014's flooding as "the perfect storm".
"Everything went against us - spring tides, low temperatures and high winds," the Galway City Councillor said. "The sheer volume of the water that came through our doors destroyed all of our electrics and floor stock.
"We were flooded three times in the past and when I saw the waters come through our doors in 2014 I remember saying to myself, 'Here we go again'.
"Hopefully the new measures will reduce the risk of flooding in our community, but I agree we definitely need better communication from the council."