As the flood waters recede in Co Cavan, the cost of fixing the trail of devastation left in its wake continues to rise and is set to exceed the €2 million mark.
The bill, largely for damaged roads, comes as council officials revealed that the deluge over the past month left 20 homes and six businesses damaged, 113 families cut-off and 70 roads closed.
As of January 6 last, the estimate for damage to the public road network in the county, including roads, bridges, culverts and drainage systems was €1.98m, as revealed at Monday’s meeting of Cavan County Council.
That figure though fails to take into account the almost 20 homes in the county damaged as rivers burst their banks and flooding in the region rose its highest level since 2009. Businesses and farm land too have also been affected.
Since December 3 last month, five residential dwellings had to be evacuated, 12 others were damaged but remained habitable, and a total of six businesses were also affected by flood damage.
A total of 113 homes were furthermore cut-off due to the flooding on 70 laneways and roads countywide, the worst affected being in the Cavan-Belturbet areas where 58 families were left stranded.
At present, 14 more dwellings in the county remain under the threat of flooding; while 16 roads in the county are still closed or are deemed impassible due to flooding or damage caused.
The clean-up bill has cost Cavan County Council €820,000 to date, with estimated repair bills expected to vary from €4,000 for the smallest scheme of works, to €120,000 for the most severe. The repair bill has since been forwarded to the relevant government departments as Cavan County Council is unable to cover the costs within its existing yearly resources.
Tribute to council staff
Tributes were also paid at the council meeting on Monday to the 65 council staff who operated throughout the festive season to assist affected families.
Staff received over 600 registered phonecalls for assistance since flooding began, not including those to mobile telephones or from local elected representatives and Director of Services for Roads Joe McLoughlin said many staff had “gone above and beyond the call of duty”.
He stated: “It will be sometime before the flooding recedes and the full bill of what the damage is can be assessed.
“Whatever that figure is, it is totally beyond our capacity to address it in our own resources,” he said, informing the meeting that extra funding had been sought from central government to help meet the costs.
Three-times normal rainfall
CEO pointed to the fact that in preceeding months there had been three-times the normal amount of rainfall, amid four subsequent stormfronts to lash the country in Desmond, Eva, Frank and Gertrude.
He said the council had engaged with both the HSE and gardaí prior to the flooding becoming serious, but that members of the defence forces were on standby if needed, and the local authority played a part in feeding information to the national coordinated Flood Taskforce on a daily basis.
Meeting between stakeholders
Details meanwhile of a planned meeting between senior members of the council and representatives of various stakeholder groups concerning local river networks were also revealed to elected members.
Director of Services Eoin Doyle said he was hopeful that a date could be set soon for a meeting between Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries and the Office of Public Works (OPW).
While councillors were effusive in their praise of local authority staff, many of whom had to cut Christmas holidays short, many still dwelled on the need for proper drainage in areas.
Fianna Fáil’s Sean Smith, who raised the matter at previous meetings, accepted that the Council did everything it could within its resources and expressed a hope that it would be reimbursed on costs incurred.
Others, including Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald and Fine Gael’s Winston Bennett, commented on the need for full scheme of drainage works to be implemented.
The latter commented: “Someone has to take the timber, prams and trolleys out of our rivers and lakes. As a farmer we clear our drains if they get blocked.”
Fine Gael’s Paddy O’Reilly called for the appointment of a Minister for State within the OPW with responsibility for rivers and lakes, with Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley querying what benefit the much mooted Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme would have for rural areas affected by flooding.