The devastating aftermath of Storm Desmond was outlined in stark terms by Galway County Council executives at its monthly meeting in County Buildings yesterday (Wednesday ). And director of services Liam Gavin warned that the damage in many areas was yet to be fully assessed as they were still flooded but the initial tally was thought to be €12.2 million.
In a presentation to councillors Mr Gavin outlined the destruction caused by the storm which saw a month’s worth of rain fall in 36 hours. “It affected the whole county from Clifden to Ballinasloe. At one stage there were 200 roads across the county either closed or under pressure from flooding. I want to thank the outdoor staff for working morning and night to help people. The Army were also a great help as were the Civil Defence. It is an issue we take very seriously. The frequency and severity of such events is something we never thought would happen. People are asking what is being done. Since 2009 we have spent €4 million on various flood relief schemes. Examples are a flood wall in Ballinasloe, work done on the Claregalway Bridge and on a culvert at Kiltartan near Gort.”
Councillor Aidan Donohue said the Minister in charge of the OPW Simon Harris would be making a visit to Ballinasloe on Tuesday and that was to be welcomed. “We were told the 2009 floods were a one in 100 year event. That is obviously not the case. We need to listen to the locals about what needs to be done. They have the knowledge of the area.”
Fellow Ballinasloe area councillor Michael Finnerty commended the council for building a floodwall near Ashfield Drive which prevented mass flooding. “In 2009, that area was flooded badly and 130 houses were under water. I believe the insurance payout for that area was €6.5 million and this time it was zero so I would say well done on that. Now we have other areas that need the same thing to be done, I have no doubt that that is the solution and hopefully we will get that sorted when the Minister comes on Tuesday.”
Loughrea representative Mogie Maher said the drainage work around the Dunkellin River had to be done. This is badly affecting residents in the Craughwell, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge areas. “That scheme is on the table for six years. It has to happen this year there are no two ways about it. It is terrible to see families crying leaving their home in a boat. We have to go to the sea and work back. It is time that human life was prioritised, we can’t be prioritisng fish.”
Portumna councillor Anne Rabbitte said there was a simple solution to the problems in her area. “We need to put in a flood gate at Connacht Harbour and that will alleviate our problems.”
Gort area councilllor Gerry Finnerty said there were still about 27 roads closed off in his region and it was a crisis situation. “I know one farmer whose home and yard has been flooded four times in the past 10 years. This is not going to end until something is done about it. We have to drain the water to Kinvara [to the sea]. Rural businesses are under serious pressure, they can’t get goods in or out. Whatever needs to be done, we have to just do it, we have to be more efficient with how we deal with it.”
Ardrahan councillor Michael Fahy said a message needed to be sent to Government that there was a serious need for adequate compensation. “We need to make sure people are not financially ruined as well as flooded.”