Despite seeing a major flood event last year where 50 people had to be evacuated from a nursing home in the dead of night in Foxford the town does not have a "cost benefit" for a solution to be included under the current Western Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management (Western CFRAM ) Study it was revealed this week.
At the October meeting of Ballina Municipal District this week, Clare Butler, projects manager for the Office of Public Works on CFRAM, told the meeting: "There isn't a viable option for Foxford on the basis that the analysis we carried out the 100 year flood extend didn't show any properties at risk and that is why there wasn't an option development."
This news was greeted with shock and surprise by elected members of the district and officials of Mayo County Council. Foxford based Fine Gael councillor Neil Cruise responded: "With regards to what you said about Foxford, I don't agree with that, I have to strongly disagree with that, to be honest with you," and, "every drop of water that enters the Moy system through the lakes has to go through the lake river and through Foxford, we're very much at risk and probably more at risk than Ballina."
He continued: "The area that flooded in Foxford in December 2015 and was under serious threat right through to February, holds the vital infrastructure for the town, being the existing sewerage and waste water treatment plant, our secondary school, the sports centre, the Foxford Woollen Mills, the nursing home, and all our sports and recreational facilities which were under serious threat right through that period.
"I couldn't accept what you're saying there is a serious amount of infrastructure and houses under threat there, the whole Moy View estate was under threat. Some one definitely has their lines crossed here. I know ourselves we lived it we saw the devastation that was there, similar to what happened in Crossmolina if not to the same extent, but that needs to reviewed again, I would not accept that in any way shape or form."
The members were passed out maps that showed what the OPW expects to see in relation to flooding based on three different types of a flood, a one in 10 year flood, a one in 100 year flood and a one in 1,000 year flood. Ms Butler told the meeting: "We prepared these maps a few years ago, we went to Foxford with the maps to consult with the members of the public, councillors to see did it match what people thought, and we worked out the risk. The flood event that happened in Foxford in December we assume it was greater than the 100 year." To which Cllr Crusie responded: "It was greater than the 1,000 year flood"
Director of services for Mayo County Council, Joe Loftus, also spoke of his concerns saying: "I'm director with responsibility for emergency responses and with direct knowledge of the response of the evacuation of the nursing home, I would have seen first hand the flooding of the river across the road and into housing estates, and so on. We couldn't get a vehicle high enough to get in, some of the people actually had to be carried out of the nursing home, and a decision had to be made on a Sunday night to evacuate them and some of them were very seriously ill people. Unless something different has happened since last year and we get the same type of weather we could have the same problem again."