Cork councillors call for quick-fix flood measures

Cork City manager Tim Lucey

City councillors have called for several quick-fix measures to be introduced to minimise flood risk in Cork while the city waits for a €50m flood defence scheme.

The calls came last night as city manager Tim Lucey ruled out calls for dredging the River Lee as a possible solution to the persistent problem of tidal flooding.

“I am advised that it [dredging] is not something that will assist in reducing tide levels,” said Mr Lucey. “The tide comes in at a particular level irrespective.”

However, he said a new stakeholders group set up last week, comprising OPW engineers, city officials, and business leaders, could play a key role in bringing forward certain flood protection and damage limitation measures in the short term.

“We can’t prevent the flood but maybe we can minimise the damage,” said Mr Lucey.

He also ruled out a special parking deal for the Blackpool area, insisting that the five-week free parking deal announced last week should be enough.

He made his comments after the city council considered his four-page report in to how the city prepared and responded to last week’s double flood.

Mr Lucey praised frontline staff who responded to the crisis, and expressed his appreciation to city traders and residents.

He described as a “huge step forward” the commitment from OPW minister Brian Hayes last week to set aside at least €50m for flood defence plans, and to bring forward the preferred engineering options by July.

He said once they are published, the measures will be exhibited for a month, before submissions from the public will be invited.

It is hoped that construction will start by the end of 2015, and that it will take three years to complete.

Some phases of the overall scheme, especially flood defences in Blackpool, could start sooner.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said the city, which distributed 2,500 sandbags and flood sacks, should have distributed 10,000 sandbags.

Fine Gael councillor Joe O’Callaghan urged officials to consider setting up a central sandbag depot, similar to the depot used to store salt for cold weather.

Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon urged the Government to consider state aid to help businesses to buy flood barriers.

City officials are due to meet with business leaders today for a debrief meeting on the flood response to see what could be improved.

Stormy meeting

Some of Cork’s city councillors had to move seats during a council meeting last night after the roof of City Hall’s historic council chamber sprung a leak.

Water began to fall on the heads of some members of the Fine Gael party during a heavy rain storm just before 9.30pm.

Cllr Emmet O’Halloran had to move two seats to the right to avoid a steady stream of water.

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