SUMMER 2014 will be remembered as a great one by most of the county but in Doon it will go down as the year of flash floods.
On a July afternoon an isolated thunderstorm resulted in rainfall rates greater than 50mm per hour.
Retirement homes were flooded; children had to be carried head high from a crèche to their parents; bridges and roads were washed away and the force of water even lifted the lid of a manhole cover.
“The rain just came down and it wasn’t like normal rain. It was like when you get a bucket of water and throw it straight down. It was that heavy,” said one local.
Work commenced this week on rebuilding two bridges at Croughmorka and Gurtnagera. Pat O’Neill, senior engineer, Limerick City and County Council travel and transportation department, said the total cost of all the works needed “will be in the order of €1.2m/€1.3m”. This is just the Limerick side of the county boundary.
“That is the assessment of the damage. We have spent in the order €150,000 in response to the devastation that was caused - mainly road repairs, temporary stabilisation of structures, stabilising embankments,” said Mr O’Neill.
Engineers have carried out extensive surveys in the Doon area,
“We have another number of structures as well that we have analysed. They’re not as urgent as these two bridges as they affect people’s day to day activities. We are trying to maintain the character of the bridges as much as possible” said Mr O’Neill.
Local farmers, in particular, have been badly affected due to the bridge closures, Some have had to take long round trips in their tractors to work on outside lands.
The force of the rain water running down from the hills carried everything in its wake and deposited rubble in fields, farm yards and even into slatted sheds. Two farmers couldn’t get out onto the public road after the passages into their farms were washed away.
Many residents in the Doon area had damage caused to private property including walls being knocked.
“We want to get the work done as quickly as possible. We moved our own crews in there and they did terrific work in stabilisation so that people would have access to their homes and farms even though there were diversions in place,” said Mr O’Neill, who likened the flooding in Doon to Newcastle West back in 2008.
“This was just something that can occur any place at any time. We have seen throughout the country when you have that intensity of rainfall it causes absolute devastation on these sharp catchments.
“Where you have steep slopes and huge amounts of water gathering and spilling down these gorges it causes devastation to the embankments and buttresses of structures,” said Mr O’Neill.
Limerick City and County Council have applied for funding from the Department of Transport and are proceeding with works.
Deputy Patrick O’Donovan welcomed the fact that work has started.
“Initially the works will be light in nature and will help in the analysis of the damaged structure. This will involve utilising a tracks machine to clear the vegetation from the bridge at both sides, propping of the masonry arch, placing scaffolding and demolishing the damaged sections of masonry wall.
“These works will enable the consulting engineers to fully design the method of works to rebuild the bridges and agree a solution with the bridge contractor,” said Mr O’Donovan.
While no date has been set, it is hoped that good progress will be made on the works by Christmas.