Bandon to pilot rapid reaction flood relief teams

The Irish Red Cross is organising rapid reaction teams to help flood victims in Irish towns and cities.

Bandon to pilot rapid reaction flood relief teams

It plans to provide emergency accommodation, access to food, clothing and aid along with house repairs.

Bandon in West Cork, along with inner city Dublin and Limerick, are the three locations for a pilot scheme.

The most advanced plan is being prepared in Bandon and it’s likely to become a template for nationwide community self-help, in the event of flooding predicted by global warming.

Millions of euro of damage was caused by flooding in Bandon in 2009 and, while the OPW is planning substantial flood relief works for the town, the Irish Red Cross is taking no chances of further devastation in the future.In the event of a serious flood warning, groups of volunteers will swing into action. They will first concentrate on making sure the most vulnerable are safe and secure, such as the elderly. The last time Bandon was deluged, there was no emergency accommodation available.

However, if it reoccurs, the charity will have a list of places to assist any victims. They will include hotels, B&Bs and even private homes.

Other volunteers will ensure clothing and food banks are opened up immediately to cater for victims, while counselling services will be organised for those who have been traumatised by such events.

Irish Red Cross national secretary Barry O’Donovan said teams of volunteers would initially assist with emergency evacuations, and other supports would then kick in. During previous flooding events countrywide, the charity provided cash donations and it is hoped to speed up the process in the future.

Bandon-based Mr O’Donovan witnessed over 5ft of water flood into his electrical retail shop in the town’s South Main Street in 2009.

“At that time, there was no plan for emergency accommodation centres in the town. So we don’t want to find ourselves back in that situation when everybody was scrambling around,” Mr O’Donovan said.

He said plans were being put in place to ensure everybody in the town would know who to contact if a disaster hit.

“A Care and Repair service is already being run in the town (for elderly and vulnerable people) out of the St Michael’s Centre and we would expand this in the aftermath of a flood,” Mr O’Donovan said.The red cross body recently held a workshop in the town at which key issues were identified such as the fear of future flooding, social inclusion for minority groups, local infrastructural issues and mental health supports. The charity will now coordinate the establishment of a local task force to progress the reaction plan, Mr O’Donovan added.

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