OVER €10 million is needed by Limerick City Council to protect the city against severe flooding in the future, the council has informed the Office of Public Works (OPW).
A detailed report, with estimates of costs, from the council sent to the OPW outlines the ongoing need to strengthen flood defences in the city, after Limerick was hit by the worst flooding the country has ever seen on February 1.
“Flooding at high tide is an ongoing problem in Limerick city that appears to be getting worse each year as the frequency of extreme high tides are happening more frequently,” states the report.
The council outlines that 31 areas in the city were affected, and highlights six locations in need of urgent repair and upgrade works.
The most expensive in a list of eight priority action points is an upgrade to the Condell Road flood enbankment and along Corbally Bank, both of which are estimated to cost over €1m each to strengthen.
Figures released to the Limerick Leader by the Department of Social Protection show that as of February 20, a total of €109,242 was paid out to flood victims in Limerick, after 275 claims were processed for their immediate needs, and the replacement of furniture and electrical items destroyed.
The humanitarian aid payments for Limerick, which is expected to rise considerably above the €109,000 paid out to date, is the highest paid out in the State fund this fund.
In Kerry, there has been just one payment of €50, four payments in Cork amounting to €70, two payments in Dublin valued at nearly €7,000, and 22 payments in Waterford, amounting to €22,801, which received the second highest pay-out in the State after Limerick.
Following queries from the Limerick Leader, the council said that in the areas of St Mary’s Park, King’s Island, Corbally and Thomondgate, a total of 191 houses were flooded.Of these, 159 classified as having been seriously impacted by the flooding and 42 of these are directly owned by the council.
Concerned residents across King’s Island have also submitted a detailed report for Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the ongoing issues surrounding the flood damage - and the unpreparedness of the local authorities to deal with the crisis.
The 25-page report by the residents, following a series of meetings in the wake of the disaster, was submitted to Eamon Gilmore when he visited the worst affected area recently.
Seanie Quinlivan, a resident of St Ita’s Street and chair of the committee, is urging the Government to take preventative actions before the next high tides arrive in early March.
“Quite simply, normal engagement with the local authority cannot work fast enough - we have had to take the lead,” he wrote to the Taoiseach. He outlines the “chaos and disbelief that ensued” on the day of the floods, saying that “effective management of the situation never followed until the residents of King’s Island began to assert control themselves.
He stated that the intention of the report is “not to attack personalities or to destroy reputations but to illuminate avoidable shortcomings which, in turn, have aggravated the situation of those in the path of the wave that hit King’s Island”.
“While a public relief effort did materialise, there was no evident co-ordination of the resources deployed and no clear direction of effort.
“The public response seemed ineffective. Follow-up support and assistance seemed deficient. Even two weeks later there was no clear statement of intention from the local authorities.”
Just yards from his home, the King’s Island community centre is still cooking meals for free for those worst affected.
But Seanie said that he’s still cooking in a contaminated cooker, which his wife Margaret, who has TB in both lungs, cleans out every day to avoid further health risks.
The 67 year-old who has resided at No 6 St Ita’s Street for the past 46 years, said while no lives were lost in Limerick, “had the waves arrived one day earlier, when children would have been preparing to make their way to school” many lives could have been seriously put at risk.
One month on, he said he’s still pouring five gallons of water daily from a dehumidifier placed in his shed. Many residents have also reported continuing health problems, including mouth ulcers and throat infections.
CCTV footage of the flooding from King’s Island is in the hands of the council, and shows the water levels rising rapidly, but is not being publicly released due to data protection issues.