Thursday, January 16, 2014

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THE OVERALL cost of repair work for damage caused during the recent storm which battered county Wexford could be as much as €3m.

That was the estimate provided by the local authority’s Director of Services for Roads and Building Control, Eamonn Hore, when contacted about the matter by The Echo.

Some areas of the county were badly affected while other parts of Wexford came through more-or-less unscathed from what was one of the worst storms to hit the country in years.

 

Preparation:

 

Mr. Hore pointed out that when the weather warnings were first issued by Met Eireann Council staff were put on alert.

The local authority also began monitoring river levels both remotely and on-site while areas likely to flood were also pinpointed by the County Council.

The Civil Defence had also carried out a complete overhaul of equipment, including vehicles, before Christmas in the event of call-outs.

Public notices were issued through local media channels and public notification was also carried out using the Map Alerter System.

“There was also pre-filling and delivery of sandbags,” said Mr. Hore.

In addition to sandbags being deployed to strategic locations flood gates were closed in flood wall defences in areas that were deemed likely to be vulnerable.

“We also checked sluice gates and flap valves where necessary,” said Mr. Hore.

Significantly, the local authority staff also erected ‘road flooded’ signs one hour prior to high tide in areas susceptible to flooding.

 

Local authority response:

 

Once the storm hit the local authority immediately implemented an action plan to deal with the areas worst affected.

That included ongoing public alerts and the continued delivery of sandbags to areas hit badly.

“Sections and junctions of roadways were manned for traffic control and work was done to clean out and free-up drains and watercourses,” said Mr. Hore.

During the course of the storm period it’s estimated that Wexford Co. Council removed over 130 trees which had either fallen onto roads or were deemed potentially dangerous to road users.

Mr. Hore said there was a co-ordinated response between local authority staff, the Gardai and the Fire Service.

That fact was also highlighted by the Gardai in New Ross who told The Echo that one particular night around 20 reports were received of fallen or dangerous trees on roadways.

The Fire Service also confirmed that fallen trees were the cause of most of the call-outs they received throughout the storms. However, there were some incidents in which motorists were involved in collisions as a result of debris on roads.

 

Assessment of repair costs:

 

While the cost of damage to private property is not within the remit of the local authority Mr. Hore confirmed that the overall estimate [at the time of going to press] was in region of €3m.

He highlighted particular areas of concern such as the major incidents of flooding that occurred on the N25 in New Ross.

Mr. Hore said the local authority’s report to the Government on the matter had highlighted the fact that such flooding is a recurring problem in that area and that it needs to be addressed with flood defence work.

He said the flooding of commercial properties along the N25 in New Ross had also been reported to the Government.

“Duncannon was particularly badly hit,” he said.

“There was major damage to the village and thousands of tonnes of sand got washed away and sand dunes have been destroyed,” he added.

Mr. Hore then confirmed that in parts of Duncannon only three metres of land exists between the beach and the road out of the village to Wexford.

“There are also collapsed sea walls supporting private property and other walls have been undermined,” he said.

A particular area of concern highlighted by Mr. Hore was that of Seaview where the access road to eight holiday homes was completely destroyed.

In Kilmore Quay there was also extensive damage with cracking of the pier wall being a major issue of concern.

Mr. Hore said other areas of the coast have also been affected and said portions of the R736, near the coast, were “severely compromised”.

“They will need rock armour protection to make it safe again,” he said.

Another area affected was Kilpatrick where the access road to a number of houses was washed away and the pier in Courtown also experience “significant damage”.

However, the full extent of that damage was not known as The Echo went to press.

The enormity of the storm and ferocious power of the wind, rain and sea was perhaps exemplified in Cahore where the public car park was destroyed.

A holiday home in Ardamine was left partly overhanging a bank after the land beneath it subsided while there were also incidents of flooding in areas like Coolbrook.

“There has been a major issue with road surfaces in some areas,” said Mr. Hore.

He added that potholes have become a major problem.

The Rosbercon area of New Ross suffered substantial flooding which resulted in major tailbacks into the town from both the Wexford and Waterford directions.

Mr. Hore said that while a review of the damage is ongoing the estimated cost of repairing the damage ascertained so far will be in the region of €3m.

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