Sophisticated rainfall and river gauges, and a surface water pumping system, saw Clonmel pass the first flood water test of 2014.
Flood walls helped contain the Suir which rose by seven feet in Clonmel, and further downstream in Carrick. But levels were not as high as those which caused the last major floods in 2009, according to Clonmel town engineer Jonathan Cooney. Even so, Borough Council outdoor staff were on high alert over Christmas and New Year as the €40m flood scheme’s capabilities were tried .
Twenty eight rainfall and 18 river gauges fed essential data to the Council’s flood monitoring system, which can predict the likely river levels for up to eight hours. An automatic text messaging service was also in place to keep staff updated.
Based on forecasts, staff erected nine demountable flood barriers on December 30 and 31, in key locations.
Heavy surface water which could have flooded streets and roads in the past, is now removed by a network of surface water drains which pumps the water back into the river. This has been operating for the past three weeks.
“The whole situation has changed since 2009. Then, we we were concerned with sandbags and protecting homes, this time it was all about the time taken to erect the demountable barriers,” said Mr Cooney.
Staff deployed at 5am on December 30 to erect demountable barriers, had completed the task by 8am. Trial runs throughout the year have reduced time taken to do this.