As businesses and residents in Carrick-on-Suir count the cost of the town's worst flooding in decades, the Co. Council has confirmed it's investigating the causes and what measures need to be taken to prevent it happening again.
Director of Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District Council Pat Slattery responded to calls for an inquiry from Carrick-on-Suir's two councillors Kieran Bourke (Ind) and David Dunne (SF) by stating the Council is already on the case. "We are already reviewing what went wrong and we have been at that since last Friday," he told The Nationalist.
He said local public representatives will be briefed on the Council's investigations at a special private meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District Council tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.
Cllr Kieran Bourke has called for the OPW to re-examine and re-design Carrick-on-Suir's flood defence system in the wake of the floods that engulfed businesses and homes on North Quay, Bridge Street, Mill Street and other pockets of the town between last Tuesday and Thursday. The flooding and threat of further floods led to the evacuation of residents at Mill Street, Markievicz Tce., the North Quay and South Quay.
Cllrs Bourke and Dunne also called on the Council to invest more resources in the flood defence water pumps, which they said were inadequate during last week's crisis.
But Mr Slattery said Carrick's flood defence system held up and was not at fault last week. Three of the flood defence water pumps worked last week and only two were required to be operational. He pointed out that the flood pumps were fully serviced in November.
He explained that the problem they encountered was the breakdown on Tuesday night (December 29) of a separate sewerage pump and storm water pump located opposite Davin Park that are part of the town's sewerage system. The control panel for these pumps was damaged by a flash flood coming from the land on the north side of the town that flowed like a river down the N24.
This dual pump breakdown combined with the blocking and overflow of a culvert drain on the N24; the unprecedented volume of rainfall with 83mm falling in 24 hours and the huge volume of water run off from the countryside on the north and west sides of the town were the primary causes of the flooding in the town, he said. This combination of events had never happened before. Lessons had to be learned and the Council was endeavouring to do that and put measures in place to ensure it didn't happen again.
Mr Slattery also responded to Cllr Bourke's and Cllr Dunne's criticism that the Council was initially slow to respond to the developing crisis last Tuesday and the distribution of sandbags to premises under threat of flooding should have happened earlier.
Cllr Bourke complained that the Council wasn't prepared for the crisis while Cllr Dunne claimed there wasn't a clear emergency plan to respond to the flooding.
Cllr Bourke pointed out that from last Wednesday onwards the response of Council staff was "absolutely excellent" . But without the assistance of members of the public, who distributed sandbags to homes around the town in their vans and cars there would have been a lot more homes and businesses in trouble, he said.
Cllr Dunne said the effort of the emergency services and volunteers to help those who were stranded and in need wasn't matched by the Council's level of preparedness to respond to the flooding. The Council's response was not as "timely and efficient" as it should have been, he said.
"I am struck by the comparison between the level of preparedness in Clonmel and the plan for Carrick-on-Suir. It was obvious the Clonmel plan had been well thought out and graduated in levels of response. Sadly, the same cannot be said for out town", he added.
Mr Slattery rejected the councillors' assertion that the Council was slow to respond. The town foreman was on site in Carrick-on-Suir last Tuesday night and was in contact with the district engineer and they put a flood relief plan for the town into action.
The Council's priority that night was to mobilise staff to get the pumps operating and this took some time. After that was done, the sheer volume of the flood water took the Council three days to clear.
Mr Slattery said the Defence Forces were brought in to assist with filling sandbags and distributing them around the town. And he pointed out that the sandbags would have been useless to premises flooded on the North Quay and Mill Street that night.