Mayo County Council have their preparations well under way in case their is a repeat of the storm conditions that battered the county last Christmas.
Plans have been put in place to ensure that council is ready for whatever is thrown at them by the wild Atlantic in the coming weeks, amidst predictions of high tides and storm surges again this Christmas.
Senior engineer with Mayo County Council, Padraig Walsh, told the November meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District this week that: “In terms of readiness for Christmas (storms ), our normal response to emergencies will happen. In the event of storms, the crews that are necessary will be supplied. In terms of the response to a storm event we watch the OPW storm surge forecast and that forecasts what surge you will get in the event of high winds that will be overlaying on top of the normal tidal conditions. We watch that and if something significant is forecast we will ensure that everyone including the public is informed and it will feed into our readiness to respond.”
Director of services for the council, Martin Keating, told the meeting: “I can assure you that in this district we are prepared for such events and they have been discussed at our management meetings. We are constantly reviewing weather forecasts and tide levels, we have assistance from the OPW in relation to the forecasting.”
The issue had been raised at the meeting by Sinn Féin Cllr Rose Conway Walsh, Mr Keating also said that in relation to warning people about storms: “Predicting where and when is the difficulty, we don’t want the situation either that we are putting out warnings that frighten people unnecessarily.”
Also this week, Ballina based Fine Gael TD, Michelle Mulherin in the Dáil proposed that the Government allocate grants for flood prone homes to purchase flood gates or flood defences. Speaking in the Dáil, Dep Mulherin said: “As winter approaches, people are fearful that the storms and flooding experienced last winter might revisit them. In my home town of Ballina approximately 100 houses have been identified as being at risk of flooding. Other areas which experienced flooding to housing include Ross, Killala, as well as Westport, Crossmolina and other villages and towns nationwide.
“As an effective preventative measure, I propose that the Government establish a small grant scheme to provide flood ‘gates’ to doorways of vulnerable homes. The ‘gate’ is made from similar material to that used in dry suits and can be fitted on a person’s door. It is removable and can be left placed on the door at times of flood risk. These flood gates can be fitted for approximately €1,500 for a house.”
With the risk of further flooding this Christmas period with an expected high tide and storm surge around Christmas Eve, it has put people who have been previously flooded on high alert again.
Dep Mulherin went on to say: “I propose that this scheme would be funded by the Department of the Environment and administered by local councils. Councils already very effectively administer small grant schemes for home improvements, such as new windows and doors or specialised showers for disabled persons, and they would be well suited to carrying out this scheme. I also propose that homeowners who have already installed this flood defence measure at their own expense be re-imbursed retrospectively.
“It is worth bearing in mind that, in many cases, the owners of houses which have already been flooded can no longer obtain insurance for them. As a result, they will from now on be obliged to fork out their own money or turn to the State if their homes are again flooded.”