THE November 2009 floods which devastated Cork and left hundreds of people in serious financial debt has been detailed in the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC’s) annual world disasters report.
Amid tropical cyclones, the disaster in Haiti, crop failures in Asia and starvation or conflict in parts of Africa, the major global organisation took time to note the floods which caused havoc to Ireland last year.
The annual report, based on the actions of 186 national ICRC groups worldwide in 2009 and early 2010, focused particularly on climate change and potential risks in urban areas.
And while nobody died during the crisis, it noted that within this setting the November flood crisis was among the worst possible scenarios to face Ireland.
“Rainfall totals were the highest on record for November in many places and river levels reached record heights as the Irish Red Cross deployed volunteers and ambulances to assist in evacuations,” the report noted.
“Months later the island nation, whose major cities all lie on the coast, was still counting the cost.
“In County Cork alone, it was estimated flood damage ran to €100 million as a dam equipped with a new 50-metre-wide spillway designed to cope with an extreme flood failed to cope.”
Referencing a statement from the Irish Academy of Engineering (IAE), it added: “Failure to act now will put our society at an unacceptable risk. You have only to think of Hurricane Katrina for an example of how climate change coupled with poor planning and zoning decisions can lead to social and economic disaster.”
As a result of the seven-page section on the floods in Cork and other parts of the country, the 220-page ICRC report has recommended an increased focus on the vulnerability of specific areas to ongoing climate changes.
It has further asked for a “detailed analysis” to identify “the most vulnerable groups, areas, sectors” such as Cork city and how they may be affected.
Among the other international disasters highlighted in the 2010 report were the January earthquake which devastated Haiti, the ongoing conflict in oil-rich southern Sudan and a host of climate-related incidents in Asia and Latin America.
A total of 576 incidents which met the ICRC’s description of a natural disaster were recorded last year, the lowest in almost a decade.
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