'When it rains hard for a day or two days in Crossmolina, that is when everyone gets worried' — Cllr Loftus

Fear of flooding is causing mental anguish to people

Cllr Michael Loftus

Cllr Michael Loftus

When an orange rainfall warning was issued earlier this week, the town of Crossmolina was put on edge once again over the fear of flooding in the town.

In 2016 the town was badly flooded, and while there have been some remedial works put in place since then, the people and businesses in the town still live in fear of another major flooding event causing havoc, according to local councillor Michael Loftus.

Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week Cllr Loftus said: "We were very close to it, we were within a foot and a half of the top of the bridge - but I was more concerned after dinner on Tuesday, because of the amount of rain that did actually come in the town, but it didn't rain as hard in Keenagh and that is where it always gives us trouble. It went up to 2.8m in Keenagh, now when the flood in 2016 went up to over 3.3m, that will tell you it isn't too far off it."

Mayo County Council put its flood preparedness plan into operation on Monday evening due to the rainfall warning and in particular singled out Crossmolina as an area of concern.

After the 2016 flooding a small works scheme was put in place by the OPW that saw flood barriers and retaining walls constructed along with over 30 non-return valves being filled in, which has made a difference, according to Cllr Loftus, who said: "That cost about €300k at the time in 2016 and that made a significant difference because what was happening before this was the water was coming down the river and going into the pipes along the road and flooding the road, because the pressure of the water was so high.

"One pipe in particular pointed down the river so any water that was coming down from Nehpin was going up the pipe and up the gullies at Chapel Street and that was always flooding, that was saving us over the past few years."

But there is another major scheme that should sort the problems out that is still to be completed but is taking to long to do, he added, saying: "It has been put on the long finger for far too long, because every time for the last three Septembers and this year we have come forward a week, we have been nearly flooded.

"You can visualise the mental state of people here in Crossmolina every time it rains - they are petrified and that is the biggest fear you have. Businesses aren't insured, houses aren't insured and any house that is they are paying a small fortune.

"What we originally wanted was to get the Government to take on that insurance policy that would cover people who have none or can't get anyone to provide insurance, but they wouldn't do that.

"We saw on the television what happened down in Cork recently, this is what we are fearing here could happen again to us this year. This is literally just the start of the year for it in September and we have to worry up until March of next year. We are trying to do everything we can."

When the town flooded in 2016 some 127 homes and businesses were affected and after that a scheme was put in place by the OPW to provide flood gates to those homes and business that got hit, Cllr Loftus said, and when a warning comes, the community spring into action to get ready.

"It is the mental anguish that it causes to people when it rains hard for a day or two days in Crossmolina, that is when everyone gets worried. We are lucky Lough Conn is low at the moment, but it is the sheer volume that comes down at once into Crossmolina that is the problem.

"We have an action group in Crossmolina, we have it broken down that every street has a team leader and team they work with. The group's leader will go to the street leaders and if there is elderly or people in need, they will put up the flood barriers for them and they will help prepare them for the flood, we felt it was important we started looking out for ourselves."


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