Lack of action on floods is appalling

IT’S HARD to blame the hundreds of Cork householders and business owners affected by the city’s worst flood in living memory for being angry, frustrated and fearful.

Almost 12 months on, they still don’t know what caused the November 19 disaster, or who was responsible.

And the grindingly slow pace of repairs to damaged quay walls, the lack of flood defences and early warning systems, along with the failure of politicians to ensure these measures are delivered, has left them living in fear that it could happen again.

Last year’s massive flood was Cork’s Hurricane Katrina.

It caused an estimated €100 million in damage. No lives were lost but hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed.

Half the city was without fresh drinking water. The county council headquarters was shut for over a week, a five-star hotel has yet to reopen, dozens of UCC buildings were destroyed while the city’s main courthouse was also shut.

The scale of damage was staggering but the speed of the state’s response to ensure it doesn’t happen again is truly frightening.

Almost 12 months on, and repairs to two flood damaged quay walls haven’t started. It is likely that it could be next summer before the work is done.

No early warning system is in place to warn people in at-risk zones yet hundreds of GAA clubs and schools across the country can use mobile phone text message alert services to keep parents informed.

There is no capacity for the large-scale storage of sand-bags and worse still, there are no defences in place to protect the public from a repeat occurrence.

Almost 12 months on, and those affected are still dealing with the aftermath – outstanding repairs, lingering health issues, and even more pressing insurance difficulties.

There are reports of insurance companies not paying enough to cover the costs of repairs, of insurance firms doubling, and in some cases trebling premiums, of refusing to provide flood cover, and in some cases of refusing point blank to pay out.

The fact that flood protection measures haven’t been delivered yet is making the insurance situation worse.

Almost 12 months on, and the residents have seen an Oireachtas committee recommendation that a public inquiry be held effectively kicked to touch.

This is in stark contrast to events which unfolded after the Dodder burst its banks in the heart of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s constituency in November 2002. It was announced within weeks, that the construction of major flood barriers would be fast-tracked.

Nowhere is the state’s inaction in Cork more evident than at Grenville Place, where a quay wall close to a major city hospital was breached by flood waters. Sand bags delivered the day after the flood have rotted and weeds now grow from the mounds of sand. The hole in the wall remains.

Correspondence between the Mardyke Residents Association and various Government ministers shows politicians are dodging the issue.

Almost 12 months on, the people at risk of flooding demand, and deserve solutions – now.


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