Council to seek more funds to foot storm damage bill

The repair bill for storm damage in Kerry will be considerably more than the €21m already applied for in a Kerry County Council submission to the OPW.

The council is to make a second application for funding following the most recent storms amid claims at yesterday’s meeting in Tralee that the initial estimate was too low.

Councillors were also surprised to hear that no meeting had yet taken place between senior council officials and the OPW.

“It doesn’t seem there’s any co-ordination or co-operation between the OPW and this local authority,’’ said Independent councillor Michael Cahill, whose native Rossbeigh has been severely damaged.

In Tralee, 420mm of rain has fallen since the start of the year — 70% above normal levels — which will have an adverse impact on the road network, according to Ger MacNamara, acting director of roads services.

In a detailed report to the meeting, he said 66 areas around the county needed funding, but the council had not yet been informed how much it was going to receive from central government, despite the announcement of €70m being made available nationally.

The council is to submit another application for funding to repair damage caused by storms since January 31. Prior to January 31, the council had spent €253,000 on clean-up and emergency repairs.

Last Wednesday’s storm caused extensive damage around Kerry. Ballyseedy Wood, outside Tralee, has since been closed to the public for safety reasons.

Mr MacNamara said the council had no responsibility for old Land Commission flood embankments and, according to the Department of Agriculture, responsibility for these works normally rested with the property owner.

Sinn Féin councillor Toireasa Ferris warned of more damage at Fenit, near Tralee, when another high tide comes in early March.

“There’s a disaster waiting to happen in Fenit,’’ she said. “There’s a breach in the sandbank and homes will be flooded in high tide if this local authority doesn’t do something urgently to help the community.’’

Meanwhile, ESB crews were working yesterday to restore power to thousands of homes in Kerry. Some have had no power since Wednesday’s storm.

A precautionary boil water notice was also continuing as water treatment plants had been affected by power outages.

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