President visits Limerick and Cork after recent flooding

Monday 10 February 2014 23.26
Parts of Limerick and Cork were among the worst affected by recent floods
Parts of Limerick and Cork were among the worst affected by recent floods

President Michael D Higgins has visited families and communities in Co Limerick and Co Cork affected by the recent flooding.

He met families and community representatives as well as the emergency services who responded at the Kings Island Community Centre in St Mary's Park, Co Limerick.

Many of those living in the St Mary's Park estate and Island View terrace were badly affected by the storms of 1 February.

Many homes and possessions were destroyed and some people are still homeless.

President Higgins also met members of Limerick fire service, Limerick search and rescue teams, the civil defence and civic trust, who responded to the emergency.

President Higgins said he wanted to show solidarity with those so badly affected, who had been so distressed by the events that had overwhelmed them.

He said he also wanted to praise the generosity and compassion of all those neighbours and friends who had helped people at that time.

He encouraged them to continue that spirit and make a vow to work together in the future.

Later, the President visited Co Cork, which was also affected by the recent flooding.

The total cost of recent flood damage has been put at €100 million.

The allocation of additional funding for victims is to be discussed at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, a report from Engineers Ireland has found that Ireland's flood defences have worsened in the past year.

It has called for tailored flood warning systems to be put in place.

The group said there needs to be an appropriate long-term strategy for dealing with flooding.

It also said significant funding is required by the Office of Public Works and local authorities if they are to implement measures necessary to alleviate flooding.

OPW defends flood defence systems

The OPW has said flood defence works in some towns saved hundreds of properties from flooding.

Head of Flood Relief and Risk Management Mark Adamson said without the works carried out in Mallow and Clonmel there would have been "tens or hundreds of properties under water".

Engineers Ireland produces a report for Engineers Week each year grading Ireland's infrastructure across five sectors.

On water quality, the report found water infrastructure is inadequately maintained, unable to meet peak demand and requires investment. 

However, it said consolidation of water services and water meters will help address leakage.

The engineers said further delays to energy projects, such as Grid West and Grid Link, should be avoided in order to secure supply.

It also said Ireland cannot exclude consideration of nuclear power in the longer term.

The group has called for the construction of more waste-to-energy plants, saying the lack of facilities means Ireland has to pay to have its hazardous waste exported.

It said the transport infrastructure continues to struggle to meet peak demand.

The highest grade goes to the communications infrastructure, but the authors said it still requires investment, particularly in the area of fibre optic and satellite-based services.

Flood damage repairs in Clare over €36.8m

Clare County Council has estimated that the cost of repairing damage caused after the recent storms now stands at €36.8 million.

In a second preliminary report on storm damage, the council outlined the damage caused and the estimated cost of repairs following a series of severe storms from late December to early February.

In relation to the recent storms, the report says that "while there was a realisation that the potential for damage and flooding was considerable, it had to be said that the sheer vigour and ferocity which ultimately evolved exceeded all expectation".

The report outlines damage caused by high winds and surging tides along the Co Clare coast.

It says that while that the figures are as realistic as can be provided in the present circumstances they may be subject to change.

After the storms that struck the county during the Christmas period the Council had estimated that the cost of those repairs would be in the region of €23.7m.

However, following the most recent storm on 1 February the Council says "the currently estimated overall cost of remedial works to be implemented with a view to restoring appropriately the vast array of public infrastructure which has been so seriously damaged by recent storms amount to €36,801,284."