AN ADDITIONAL €15m in humanitarian aid has been promised by the State following the devastating floods in Limerick and around the country last weekend.
Speaking in the Dail last night, Minister Brian Hayes, of the Office of Public Works, said it was “heart-breaking to see the devastation that was caused in Limerick” last weekend when flood defences were overwhelmed.
He outlined that the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has committed to providing an additional €15m in humanitarian aid for flood victims, on top of the €10m already available nationally for these victims.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea said it is his view that another €15m wouldn’t be enough, but Minister Hayes said “if more is needed it will be provided”.
He said they will be reviewing an application for EU funds, and Limerick could be included within that, after the city witnessed the highest recorded level of flooding, since the records began by the OPW in the 1950s.
He said work will start on the installation of a temporary barrier in at-risk areas in Limerick immediately, with assistance from the OPW.
He urged victims of flooding to apply for funding as soon as possible to ensure a fast turnaround time for the receipt of aid.
He added that a separate fund may be needed for Limerick, but at this point the State doesn’t know the full scale of structural damage in the northside of the city, where some 300 homes were affected.
Regarding uninsured residents, he said it is “too early to say” if damage done to their homes can be included within the new allocation of €15m.
Speaking on RTE’s Prime Time, Minister Jan O’Sullivan also said that she can’t give a “definite commitment” that people who do not have flood insurance will be covered by the State for the damage done to their homes.
Sinn Féin city councillor Maurice Quinlivan has called for clarity on whether flood victims who have no insurance will receive financial assistance from the State.
Athlunkard Street resident James Ring said he pays €600 a year for home insurance, but this does not cover flood damage.
“I would have been better off if my house burned to the ground, which is an awful thing to say,” he said, estimating that the cost of damage done to his home could range from €40,000 to €60,000. “All that’s left are shells of homes. They’re not homes, they are shells,” he said.
Former mayor, Independent city councillor John Gilligan said there are homes in the Island Field “which people may never be able to live in again”.
“The Minister is going to have to realise that this is not just another flood someplace, this is a huge humanitarian issue,” he said.
The council, An Garda Síochána and the HSE remain on a state of alert up to and including the coming weekend with further heavy rainfall forecast for the period.
Some 15,000 sandbags were distributed in the city between last Thursday and this Monday, though many residents said the sandbags arrived after the impact, leaving them exposed to the worst of the floods.
The tide tables for Limerick docks predicted a high tide level of 7.5m for 7.12am on Saturday last, but the actual high tide level was 8.9m. The predicted tide levels for this Wednesday are: 6.6m at 10.14am and 6.3m at 10.40pm.
Those affected by the floods can call an emergency hotline on 061 417833; or the Department of Social Protection in Ballynanty, 061 457100.