BY MATT CASSIDY
Businesses in Eyre Square were mopping up this week as severe rainfall over the Bank Holiday weekend led to unprecedented flooding in the area.
Bank of Ireland in Eyre Square and Eyre Square Dental Clinic were just two of the businesses forced to close as the overnight rainfall flooded their premises with the Galway Advertiser also experiencing water damage.
A spokesperson for the Galway City Council said it had been estimated two inches of rain fell within the space of 36 hours, leading to spot flooding all over the city.
The spokesperson said: "The heavy downpours caused stress on the gullies and, coupled with high tides, resulted in overflowing. There was spot flooding all over the city, but Galway city council workers were out on the roads beforehand which negated some of the impact of the rainfall."
Meanwhile several businesses along Shop Street and Flood Street also had to temporarily close due to minor flooding overnight.
Time for local response on climate change
The widespread flooding throughout the city coincided with the publication of a document by the All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum calling for local authorities to be given more of a remit in tackling climate change.
The forum report noted: "The [Climate Action] Plan would be most effective if local councils are given clear priority and leadership to develop such policies in a wide number of areas. Councils could also play a focal role in meaningful engagement with citizens and communities through more coherent mobilisation of existing structures and initiatives to inform, engage, motivate, and empower people to take climate action."
Green party councillor Pauline O'Reilly concurred with the forum saying the solution to climate change is in local areas.
She said; "What we do in our local areas is what will be the answer to the climate crisis. Let's not forget that there is a cost to doing nothing on climate change. It means more flooding and more payments to the EU as we miss our emissions targets. The local solutions are the best; enhanced public transport, cycleways, and footpaths, investments in local parks and amenities so that we don't all have to travel far from home, insulation for our homes and community projects like solar and wind generation that we can sell back to the grid.
"These are the solutions and the Government must now put its money where its mouth is. We don't just want to see a national plan, we want to see local action that will make everyone's lives better."
A spokesperson for the Galway City Council said local authorities were the front line when it came to dealing with the effects of climate change and that the council had a draft climate adaption strategy currently on display for public consultation.
Calls for county council to provide assistance
The city was not the only area to be impacted by the rainfall with much of the county being severely affected leading for calls on the Galway County Council to provide urgent emergency assistance to householders in flood risk areas.
Oranmore-Athenry councillor James Charity said that homes in the Caheroyan Drive, Caheroyan Avenue, and Abbey Row areas of Athenry were under threat from rising water levels from the Clarenbridge River.
Cllr Charity said; "This is not the first time residents in these areas have come under threat of flooding and the exceptionally high rainfall we have seen in recent days has once again placed homes at risk. In the long term, permanent solutions to this ongoing problem need to be progressed as it is clear that past measures have not worked.
"To my mind, the Office of Public Works should carry out extensive dredging of the river bed here to minimise what is now a well known risk. In the short term, I have been in touch with the director of services and area office to provide assistance to these localities through the provision of sandbags and support on the ground."
And it looks like the rain will continue with Met Éireann forecasting showers this evening and thunderous downpours on Friday.