Council totting up cost of storm damage in County Limerick

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

Some of the recent storm damage in Bruff
DAMAGE was caused to 20 houses in the Kilmallock electoral area during Storm Darwin on February 12, amounting to €18,500, a local meeting has heard.

DAMAGE was caused to 20 houses in the Kilmallock electoral area during Storm Darwin on February 12, amounting to €18,500, a local meeting has heard.

Senior executive engineer in the Kilmallock area office, Gerard O’Connor, said 12 of those houses had roof damage while the rest had boundary fences damaged.

“We have compiled an estimate and at the moment it’s at about €18,500 in terms of housing alone,” he said.

“We have people consulting with Irish Public Bodies in relation to submitting a claim.”

While Mr O’Connor said the roof damage appears to be covered, the damage to the boundary fences isn’t covered in the insurance policy with IPB.

The meeting heard that there had also been a lot of damage caused to graveyards, where trees fell on walls.

“A substantial tree fell in the old part of Castletown graveyard. It took 15 to 20 feet off the boundary wall – it was a huge tree,” said Mr O’Connor. There were also reports of damage in Ballinard, Herbertstown and Kilfinane.

In relation to graveyards, Mr O’Connor said that while there is public liability insurance to cover an incident like somebody falling on a footpath, trees falling down and damaging boundary walls, is not covered.

He said the cost of repairing the damage to boundary walls is “quite substantial”.

Giving an account of what happened on February 12, Mr O’Connor said that from 12.55pm the local area office started getting calls about tiles coming down on the main street in Kilmallock. “Tiles came down from the church, the medieval mansion and one of the public premises. Within a few minutes we were aware of the urgency of the situation and we closed the main street. We couldn’t even direct the traffic with trees down on all the diversion routes.”

Motorists, he said, were “very patient for about three quarters of an hour before we could let them go again”.

The amount of trees that fell he said was “horrific”.

“I think it was six between here and Bruff alone. There were dozens down between Herbertstown and Mitchelstown. I think that trees came down on every road in the area. We had a huge response both from our own staff and the public as well.”

According to Mr O’Connor “everybody put their shoulder to the wheel”.

“I know we had seven different groups out with chainsaws,” he explained. “I think that by 7.30 that evening, we had all the main roads open again for traffic which was a huge achievement in itself. We lost public supply literally everywhere. Most of our public supplies were back in action by Thursday evening and the ones that weren’t, we had tankers and generators available – there was a quick response from the water services.”

Barry Murphy, executive engineer, water services, explained that in the Kilmallock area, there are 18 different schemes supplying 15,000 people.

“We are very reliant on groundwater supplies. Sixteen of the schemes operate via boreholes. With the boreholes you need an electric supply to use the pumps and you also need an electric supply for the chlorine metres.”

Throughout Thursday, February 13, the priority, he said, was to restore as many systems as they could.

“By the end of Thursday we had 13 of the systems back up and running and we had also tested the systems at that stage as well.”

Bruff, he said, was a particular problem area with some of the area without water on Thursday. “Every scheme in the country was looking for generators. We were able to source the generators from Dublin by Friday afternoon.”

Speaking on behalf of all the members, Cllr David Moloney said they wanted to acknowledge the work of the area office and the local authority.

Cllr Bill O’Donnell said that he hoped that whatever millions are going to be made available for the victims of the bad weather, including the floods, “will filter right down into the rural part of Limerick where assistance is needed”.

Cllr Eddie Ryan explained that the majority of the trees which fell have one thing in common – they are the same type of tree, macrocarpa. “They grew fast. They were set because they were going to give shelter. They have a root like a mushroom and they hold all the foliage in the winter. Invariably, all those trees fell,” said Cllr Ryan who added that there are still some trees “holding each other up”.

“In the next storm, we mightn’t be as lucky, and someone could get seriously hurt. There is a job to be done in surveying what needs to be taken down,” he said.

Cllr Mike Donegan said the “public really appreciate the work being done by the staff here and the emergency services.”

Director of travel and transportation, Paul Crowe, said that if dangerous trees are brought to their attention then they will pursue the matter “but the primary responsibility for the trees lies with the landowner.”

“If the local authority deems that action needs to be taken, then notice is served on the landowner. If they don’t do it, we do it and seek to recover costs from the landowner.”