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Flood defences are far from watertight

FLOODING has afflicted the country for two weeks now. The worst is probably over. A full investigation should uncover what happened, what went wrong, who did the right things, and what should be done next. There are many things we do not know yet, such as the adequacy of flood insurance or possible silt contamination. Nonetheless, a number of lessons can be drawn at this stage.

Floods are caused by three things: bad rains, bad planning and bad luck. There will be an element of surprise in any flood. The best water management system cannot prevent all floods, and the best emergency plans cannot avoid all damage. In this case Ireland seems to have been hit by bad planning first and severe weather second. As someone who has studied flood risks and flood management in many countries (but not Ireland), the following things struck me.

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