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‘One big flood and we’re done for’ hundreds of Tralee homes at risk from flooding


George Sugrue whose home near Tralee was almost flooded on Tuesday. Photo Domnick Walsh

George Sugrue whose home near Tralee was almost flooded on Tuesday. Photo Domnick Walsh

George Sugrue whose home near Tralee was almost flooded on Tuesday. Photo Domnick Walsh


HUNDREDS of homes in Tralee could be at risk from flooding if action isn’t taken to clear rubbish and tree debris from the river Lee and it’s tributaries.

The stark warning came from George Sugrue whose home just off the main Castlemaine Road on the outskirts of Tralee was almost inundated after Tuesday’s torrential rain.

It is the ninth time since 2008 that the Sugrue’s home has been threatened by floods in the neighbouring fields. The worst came in December 2015 when their home was swamped by flood water, causing thousands of Euro in damage.

While George and his wife Mary Sugrue have eight water pumps – including two large industrial-size machines – permanently on site and their home was built on raised foundations to protect it from flooding.

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Even those defences have not been enough and in 2015 they were breached and the house flooded – causing massive damage – in December 2015.

The property’s flood defences were put to the test again on Tuesday morning after torrential overnight rain covered the surrounding fields in several feet of water that soon began to encroach on the Sugrue home.

Thankfully the water began to recede on Tuesday afternoon – when the rain finally stopped and the tide turned – but George Sugrue said next time he, and hundreds of other homeowners in the area, might not be so lucky if something isn’t done.

“It’s the same core issue but it’s worsening now and the floods are spreading further,” Mr Sugrue told The Kerryman.

“Today’s flood was relatively small but if there’s a big one houses will go under and people will be trapped in their homes”.

Mr Sugrue said houses in the entire area stretching from Farmers Bridge to the Tralee bypass are at risk.

The cause of the worsening floods isn’t clear, but local waterways clogged with fallen tree and plant debris are likely to be a major factor.

The ‘flood-eye’ on a bridge close to the Sugrues home is also thought to be too small to cope with the volume of water generated by Ireland’s increasingly severe weather.

“With climate change we’re expecting more and more floods,” said George Sugrue.

“We’ve had a few scares but we’ve been lucky each time. Today [Tuesday] it just missed us but it will happen some day. It’s inevitable,” he said.

“We’re just exhausted from it all”.

Mr Sugrue said that at a minimum – to protect homes in the area – the river must be cleared or rubbish and debris and the banks must be built up. He believes the construction of a new culvert would also add greatly to the area’s flood defences.

A spokesman for Kerry County Council said the local authority will assess any maintenance issues at location of Tuesday’s flooding to see if action is needed.

“The Lee and its tributaries are part of the ongoing CFRAMS (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management) assessment which aims to identify risks and proposed solutions to flooding issues. This area is included in that assessment,” said the spokesperson.

Mr Sugrue has his doubts about the Tralee CFRAMS study, having tried to contribute to it by highlighting the issues in his area.

“I was given a number to call them about the flooding issue here. I rang it and I was told ‘we’ll get back to you’. It’s been 18 months now and I’ve heard nothing from them,” he said.