Cork County Council defends handling of flood crisis

Cork County Council has defended its handling of the flooding crisis.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said in a statement last night that its severe weather action team and crisis management team met 17 times, including eight times in one 24-hour period, from 8pm on December 29.

The council sought support from the Defence Forces for Midleton at 1.45am on December 30, and requested similar help for Bandon an hour later, with the crisis team continuing to direct the response during the night.

The council said that since Christmas Day, its emergency response line handled 1,773 calls, with 329 calls made to the fire service between December 29 and January 3. The council used its website, Twitter, and Facebook channels, and issued regular media releases, with more than 100 such communications issued in 10 days, with engagement figures on Facebook reaching over 15,000 during Storm Frank.

Some 548 staff including local authority, fire service, and civil defence personnel responded to the various flooding events. More than 31,000 sandbags were distributed between December 4 and January 5 — 13,500 in the Midleton area alone.

Ten social homes were affected by flooding in Midleton, with the council housing five families and planning to repair the other homes. Mr Lucey said the council noted the comments of Bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, Paul Colton, who yesterday criticised the lack of co-ordination on the ground of the emergency response.

“While I would recognise that Bishop Colton’s comments have been made in good faith, it is regrettable that the particular instance of one family which was housed temporarily in Midleton College was not made known to the council as we could have ensured that contact was made with the relevant agency which provides humanitarian assistance in such situations,” said Mr Lucey.

The council has also provided returns to the Red Cross about commercial premises damage and said it has achieved a 24-hour turn-around in all cases, with almost half of claims made nationally so far from Cork county.

The council said its early warning system on the River Blackwater allowed the deployment of flood-defence systems in Fermoy and Mallow, preventing major damage, and early warning systems in Bandon and Skibbereen provided advance warning in both towns.

The council urged people to visit for more information.

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