Sunday 18 March 2018

Angry flood victims round on Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured with Mohit Joshi, Vice President at Infosys after the Infosys jobs announcement at the Conrad Hotel. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured with Mohit Joshi, Vice President at Infosys after the Infosys jobs announcement at the Conrad Hotel. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 7/12/15

Graham Clifford and Allison Bray

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday visited flood-hit regions of the West and got a hostile reception from some affected homeowners in east Galway.

Improved weather conditions led to a drop in water levels along the Lower River Shannon yesterday, especially around one of the worst affected areas at Clonlara.

Mr Kenny received an angry reception from some residents in the east Galway area around Craughwell. He spent some two hours touring the wider area as frustrated householders told him of the damage to their homes and property and pleaded for more remedial works.

Insurance firms will meet the Taoiseach this week and will defend their refusal to cover people in flood-prone areas.

Insurance Ireland insists it is up to the State to put in adequate flood defences in vulnerable areas. They have already rejected claims by Mr Kenny that the industry makes big profits and should do more to help flooded homeowners and businesses.

Meanwhile, a former fire chief from Midleton, who spent two decades working in the emergency services in Johannesburg, has called on city and county councils to carry out strict fact-establishing exercises to find out where they went wrong in reacting to recent floods. And he wants local authorities to bring in experts to advise on best practice, "from abroad if needs be", and to simulate local flooding scenarios and pre-plan accordingly.

Dan Hurley's home on the Lauriston estate in Midleton was one of those severely flooded on the night of Wednesday, December 30.

"The cost of the damage to my house would be in the region of €30,000 but I live alone. It's the families with young children I feel most sorry for. I'm staying in a bed and breakfast and don't think I'll be able to return home until next month.

"In all, I'd estimate that 15 homes are still uninhabitable in the estate," Mr Hurley said.

In South Africa he worked as provisional chief in central Johannesburg and was commander of the city's five main fire and emergency response stations which dealt with major flood events, high-rise building fires and rescues.

He said he couldn't believe what he witnessed on the night his home was flooded, describing the reaction of the authorities as "nothing short of abysmal".

He also told the Sunday Independent that "there was lots of sand but no sand bags".

Mr Hurley said: "Swifter, more decisive, action could have saved houses from such awful damage. How much would it cost to have 200 half-tonne sandbags placed at a central location in Cork and then to move them using a forklift and digger when we know there's a risk of such flooding?"

In a statement, Cork County Council said it rejected allegations that "its response was less than what was acceptable in the circumstances". It continued: "In relation to the flooding on the Dungourney Road (on which the Lauriston estate in located), the council has already commenced a detailed hydrological investigation of this... and will also be examining any future mitigation works which could be undertaken. Pumping by the fire services, roads engineering crew and a contractor reduced the level of flooding (in the Midleton estate) that otherwise would have occurred."

County Mayor John Paul O'Shea also defended the response, saying: "The impacts of these events could have been far worse in the absence of the interventions made by our staff."

Sunday Independent

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