Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council Cllr Johnny O’Malley has said he expects the cost of cleaning up and repairing storm and flood damage across the county to be many millions of euro.
He told the Mayo Advertiser the costs in the Westport area alone are expected to be at least €1 million and may even hit €2 million, while at a rough estimate the costs for the Ballina, Belmullet, Mulranny, and Westport areas look set to exceed €5 million.
County manager Peter Hynes said Mayo County Council will have a full report on Monday on the damage and costs of the devastating combination of storms, high tides, and flooding which ravaged the coastline over Christmas and the New Year.
All of the authority’s area offices and county councillors have been working in recent days to identify and cost the damage along the Mayo coast, one of Ireland’s longest coastlines. Councillor O’Malley said he does not know if the county will get enough money from central funds to cover the necessary repair work. “We could be paying for this for years to come,” he predicted. “We are putting together a list of all of the places that will need funding to carry out repair work but there are counties who are worse off than us.”
Achill based councillor Michéal McNamara, at last Monday’s budget meeting of Mayo County Council, told how the people in his area have been devastated by the recent storms. He said: “People are standing on the roads, beaches, piers, looking at their property being washed away by flooding.” He went on to say that, “While the local authority at local level have done a lot, more could have been done to mobilise the fire services, coast guard, and other groups like the civil defence to assist, even if it was only assistance in health and safety aspects or crowd control. I apologise for having to say this at a budget meeting, but that's the way things have happened in the community that I represent.”
Mr Hynes spelled out some of the more severe destruction. “Most extensively, we lost a bridge in Carrowholly, we've lost sea walls, car parks, roads, and other infrastructure around the coast. We are in the process of assessing what the cost of replacing those would be. We will be looking for universal support in going to central government for aid to do the clean-up and then the extensive repairs that will be required. It is simply beyond our local resources.”
He also praised those who went out and assisted during the storms saying: “We responded to it on a 24-hour call out basis and we had crews out during the storms dealing with blocked roads and other issues that arose. I must praise their work and the civil defence and the volunteers who had a very tough four or five days.”
Deputy John O’Mahony also rowed in with praise for the people who came together in the face of the adverse weather conditions over the past few weeks saying that, “I think we saw by the response of the local communities in Mayo those past few weeks just what the people of this county are made of. We have always prided ourselves on our community spirit in Mayo and it has certainly been to the fore of late with everyone putting their shoulder to the wheel and helping those in need. Similarly, the voluntary agencies have been out in force doing their utmost to provide the necessary assistance to those who need it. As awful as the weather has been, it has given us all a reminder of what make local communities in Mayo tick,” he said. O’Mahony also said it would be remiss of him not to include workers at agencies such as Electric Ireland, Eircom, Mayo County Council and all the staff of the local authorities in Mayo for their efforts in ensuring that services were provided throughout the Christmas and New Year period.”