TWO months after Limerick city was engulfed in the worst flooding ever seen, a residents’ group from King’s Island have submitted a second report to the Taoiseach calling for clarity on the control of funds.
The five-page report, which follows on from a 25-page report submitted on February 25 to the Taoiseach’s office, puts 11 key questions to Enda Kenny.
The committee, chaired by Seanie Quinlivan, a resident of St Ita’s Street in King’s Island, queries whether any money donated to a number of special relief funds set up in the aftermath of the floods has been paid out.
“It appears to residents that, while funds are known to be arriving from different sources, some public and some private, the management of, and accountability for, those funds are far from clear,” states the report.
They continued: “Too many agencies seem to be involved. Residents are still not confident that money is reaching either the people who need it or the people who, by the intentions of those providing the money, are entitled to it.”
The group has also raised questions in relation to insurance, remaining restoration works, communication with residents, the psychological impact of the floods, a rise in anti-social behaviour, and lack of transparency regarding a future plan for the area.
However, Independent councillor John Gilligan, who was affected by the floods in Lee Estate, and James O’Brien, chairman of the St Mary’s Park residents’ association, said the majority of people are satisfied with the work carried out to date.
A spokesperson for Limerick City Council also confirmed that of the 81 houses damaged in King’s Island, 67 have been completed to date, and the remainder are expected to be completed by April 22 next.
Mr O’Brien, who was forced out of his house for six weeks along with his family, said “on the ground, the visibility of all the work that’s going on seems to be very good.
“We’re working closely with Regeneration, and the people are getting looked after,” he said.
Cllr Gilligan said “while we have a way to go, and often criticise the State in how tardy it can be to act, I think they have done a remarkable job down here.”
Funding made available for non-insured homes in the Regeneration areas “has been a huge boost for us”, he said.
“That was very, very positive, and I think Jan O’Sullivan did very well in getting that.
“Most people didn’t have [flood] insurance for the simple reason that insurance companies wouldn’t give it to you. My own house wasn’t covered for flood insurance, and there are lots of other people in the exact same way. Overall, I’d say I lost close on €10,000, but I escaped very, very luckily,” he said.
Ger Garvey, manager of St Mary’s Aid, told the Limerick Leader that over €30,000 has been donated to the St Mary’s Aid fund, and donations are continuing to come in, as a result of a number of charitable fashion shows and other events.
Of that sum, some €3,500 has been spent on emergency cleaning supplies for affected residents, and laundry services.
A special committee has been set up to adjudicate on who should receive the remaining funds, with representatives from St Vincent de Paul, the Red Cross, the office of the Limerick Diocese, Limerick City Council/Regeneration, and St Munchin’s community centre.
“Things are coming back to normal in that a significant number of houses have had work done to them. Obviously they are at different stages. Some people’s homes are completely refurbished and they’re delighted, while others are awaiting a lot of done to be done,” said Mr Garvey.
As of March 21 last, figures obtained by the Limerick Leader show that €275,000 has now been paid out by the State in humanitarian aid to victims of the flooding in Limerick, in 433 payments.
Nationally, €442,517 has been paid out as a result of 578 claims, with Limerick receiving the highest amount in aid in the country, at 62% of the total amount paid out to date.
In Limerick, department officials visited some 230 homes, and in excess of 600 customers have presented to the community welfare services clinics.
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and Limerick City Council have agreed that all house repairs in the regeneration area of St Mary’s Park, including privately and publicly owned houses will be funded from the Regeneration Scheme.
To date some 10 privately owned houses in this area have had works carried out at a cost of approximately €100,000.
Two applications in Limerick for ‘stage 3 assistance’ - such as plastering, dry-lining, relaying of floors, electrical re-wiring and painting - have been processed with payments ranging from some €2,000 to €5,000.
The Humanitarian Assistance scheme, which is means tested, is being made available to assist people whose homes are damaged by the severe weather and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair.
Assistance is not provided for losses which are covered by insurance or for commercial and business losses.
- A Flood Funding Request form will be distributed to residents affected or can be picked up from St Mary’s AID, The Alms Houses, Nicholas Street.
Once completed, the forms can be returned to St Mary,s AID and will be passed on confidentially to the committee. It is hoped to begin this process in April once the initial works on many of the flooded houses are completed and insurance settlements are agreed with householders. For further information contact St Mary’s AID on 061 318106