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Dublin: 23 °C Monday 25 June, 2018
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Galway deals with the aftermath after 'unprecedented' floods hit the city

Locals have been critical of the council’s response yesterday.

Source: Connacht Tribune Group/YouTube

GALWAY CITY HAS been left with a massive clean-up operation today after “unprecedented” and unexpected levels of water flooded the streets at rush hour yesterday.

Two ‘status orange’ weather alerts were issued by Met Éireann for yesterday afternoon and evening, as Storm Eleanor swept in from the west.

Galway City Council has been criticised by local politicians and residents this morning for its lack of flooding preparation.

However, Galway City Council has said that it prepared the city and its residents for high winds coinciding with high tides, as forecast by Met Éireann yesterday – but that what came last night wasn’t predicted.

“We put out a notice yesterday warning about the ‘status orange’ level of winds and high tide, but we didn’t expect this level of flooding when the warning went out, based on the forecast we were given,” communications officer for Galway City Council Gary McMahon told TheJournal.ie. 

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, McMahon explained why last night’s flooding could not have been predicted.

“We believe there were significantly higher levels of water out in the bay which, combined with the high tides and the storm surges, the wind speed and its direction and the low barometric pressure, basically compounded at 5.30pm, at high tide,” McMahon said.

Within minutes, as a surge of water broke the banks, Galway was flooded with water.

It was unprecedented and it wasn’t entirely expected.

Flood defence 

Despite claims that the city wasn’t prepared for flooding, McMahon said that a large number of sandbags have been in place around the city since October’s Storm Ophelia.

These were supplemented from about 10pm last night, according to McMahon.

Minister for State at the OPW with responsibility for flood relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran told Morning Ireland that he will be asking why a flood warning wasn’t issued in Galway but said that today “is not for the blame game”.

“These extreme weather events are happening too often and we have to look at why. That’s the real issue today, not the blame game,” he said.

Moran said that flood risk maps are due for Galway at the end of the month and permanent flood defence planning will be based on those.

Clean up efforts

The Defence Forces were called in to assist Galway County Council last night.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on the OPW and flood relief Eugene Murphy has called on the government to ensure that local authorities are provided with additional resources to help with the clean up-efforts.

“Homes and businesses across Galway have been submerged under flood waters, while roads have been blocked and power is out as a result of fallen debris in many parts of the west,” Murphy said.

This is a heartbreaking situation for people who are facing a renewed clean-up operation, less than two months after the last one.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that staff will be available this morning to support householders in affected areas.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

As the clean-up operations begin, financial support will be made available to householders affected and the Humanitarian Assistance scheme activated as necessary.

While Galway escaped further flooding this morning at high tide, McMahon said that a number of roads may be closed off in anticipation of any flooding that may occur during this evening’s hide tide.

Thousands of people have been left without electricity as a result of the storm.

You can check power outages in your local area on the ESB’s Powercheck tool, here.

Read: Orange warning stays in place as Storm Eleanor hits Ireland

More: Flooding, fallen trees and power outages as Storm Eleanor passes through the country

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