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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 18 December, 2014

Funding could be made available for floods clean-up

Cork experienced heavy flooding at high tide this morning, while the damage caused in Limerick, Clare and elsewhere is being assessed today.

Updated 11pm

WITH HEAVY RAIN forecast for the next 48 hours or so, there are warnings that the flooding problem could spread to some low-lying areas further inland.

The news came this evening Minister Michael Noonan has suggested that funding could be made available for those affected by the recent flooding.

He said that the scale of devastation caused in recent weeks would mean that more money would be needed from central government, according to RTÉ’s Six One News.

The news could come as a relief to the many people affected by the flooding over the past number of weeks.

Defences overwhelmed

Speaking on Prime Time tonight, Conn Murray, Limerick City Council Manager, said that “what we’ve experienced has never been experienced in Limerick itself” and that the defences were in place, and were not breached, “they were simply overwhelmed”.

The city saw the largest tidal surge it has experienced in recent memory.

Minister Jan O’Sullivan said that there will be a response from central government in terms of funding for people who have been affected by the floods, and that is a “commitment clearly driven by those of us [Ministers] in Limerick today”.

As to whether or not taxpayers’ money could be used as part of this, she said that “those issues haven’t been addressed as yet”.

She also said that the issue of people with private houses who can’t get insurance will be discussed at next week’s Cabinet meeting.

O’Sullivan pointed out that there are already several government funds available to flooding victims, but that they will have to be extended.

In addition, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the impact of the flooding was such that Ireland might be able to qualify for extra EU relief funds. The government is due to examine the possibility.

While in Co Galway, he said that Minister for State Brian Hayes will present up-to-date information on the impact of the flooding to Cabinet next Tuesday.

Worst hit

Limerick and Clare were among the counties worst hit at the weekend as strong winds combined with extremely high tides. Around 300 households were hit by flooding in Limerick, causing damage described as the worst the city’s ever seen.

There was also extensive flooding at high tide in Cork city centre this morning, and at lunchtime AA Roadwatch was still warning that the Carrigaline/Crosshaven Road was still completely impassable. There was also floodwater on the road between Ringaskiddy and Monkstown.

Cork flood warning for tomorrow

Cork City Council has sent out another flood warning today.It says that there is a “particular risk predicted” for the evening tide period tomorrow (Tuesday), “similar to, and possibly in excess of this morning”.

High tide will be at 8.11pm tonight, 8.37am and 8.53pm tomorrow, and 9.21am and 9.36pm on Wednesday.

It also warns Corkonians that a tidal surge and strong southerly/south-easterly winds are predicted tomorrow, which will increase the tide levels “over the natural tide levels”. This means that there is a “high risk” of tidal flooding to the city.

For a full list of at-risk areas, see the Cork City Council website.

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Fr Matthew Quay in Cork this morning. [Patrick Slattery via Twitter]

There were significant problems in the south east today too – with flooding on the New Ross Bridge on the N25 Waterford/Wexford Road. There was also flooding in Waterford City, and in Arklow.

‘Grim’

Minister Brian Hayes, who has responsibility for the Office of Public Works, travelled to Limerick this morning to assess some of the worst affected areas. Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland he said it was a “very grim situation”.

The Minister said that the figure of €10 million set aside for immediate humanitarian relief would not be enough to address the problem, and that he hoped Limerick City and County Council could meet the deadline of tomorrow for requesting additional funds for repairing flood damage.

He stressed that his Department will be spending in excess of €44 million on new flood relief measures over the coming year.

Meanwhile, Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan said that the unprecedented situation in Limerick was of such a magnitude that it required “a national response”.

“Tomorrow, officials from the local authority will be meeting senior housing officials in my Department to discuss responses to the flooding,” O’Sullivan said.

“High tides will still pose a serious threat of more flooding this week, but we now also have to focus on the immediate steps we need to take in the coming days and weeks to assist families in Limerick.”

<img src=”http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2014/02/limerick-city-flood-8.jpg” alt=”" width=”630″ />

Residents caught out by flash floods Lee Estate in Limerick City on Saturday [Niall Carson/PA Wire]

In Clare, the county council said that the some remedial works carried out following the storms that hit at the start of the year had been “significantly undone” by the weekend weather – including those at The Flaggy Shore, Seafield and Kilbaha.

Kilkee, Spanish Point and Moyasta all suffered infrastructural damage as the high winds and waves hit, while Lahinch promenade remains closed until further notice after the seawall sustained further damage.

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Lahinch at the height of the weekend storm.

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The aftermath of the storm in Lahinch [Pics: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland]

Senior Engineer with Clare council Tom Tiernan said the risk posed by tidal flooding along the Atlantic coast and Shannon Estuary had “abated to some degree during the past 36 hours” but he urged home and business owners in flood-prone locations to remain vigilant.

He added that the focus of concern was now likely to switch from coastal areas to inland areas, where heavy rain is expected to lead to a further rise in already high water levels.

“Based on the information we have received from Met Éireann, our primary concern at this point is that localised flooding is likely to occur during the next week as further heavy rain will lead to increases in already very high river levels,” Tiernan said.

“Council engineers are continuously monitoring river levels, and contingency arrangements in terms of additional pumping capacity and other flood alleviation measures are in place at flood prone locations.”

Professional photographer Sean Curtin journeyed to Limerick to see the impact of the floods there.

Here’s what he found:

Funding could be made available for floods clean-up
1 / 4
  • Limerick: Sean Kiely, Saint Muchins Street, at his home after the floods

    Source: Sean Curtin Photo
  • Limerick: Joe Sheehy cleans out his mothers home on Saint Muchins Street

  • Limerick: Sean Kiely, Saint Muchins Street (right) showing Limerick City Council's Kieran Lehane the flood damage at his home

  • Seanie Quinlivan, Saint Iras Street pleads to Minister Brian Hayes and Minister Michael Noonan for help

    Source: Sean Curtin Photo

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

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