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Taoiseach Visits Flood Ravaged Tipperary

An Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen, was in Clonmel, Co.Tipperary yesterday surveying the severe damage caused by flooding over recent days, where at least 30 homes have been damaged by flooding with a large number of families being displaced.

An Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen

An Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen

Mr Cowen, when asked what funding would be available to those who cannot get insurance, stated that the issue would be discussed within Government today.

South Tipperary’s Junior Minister for the Office of Public Works, Martin Mansergh is confident that funding for flood relief schemes will not be cut in the Budget. He said he had met with the Finance Minister last week and he is very confident that major works underway presently in Clonmel, will still continue, despite substantial cuts to OPW funding.

Meanwhile as homeowners and businesses in North Tipperary wade through the damage caused by a week of torrential rain, Fine Gael will this week use its Private Members’ Time to put forward a Motion to ensure a new national flood alert system is established.

Deputy Noel Coonan extended his deep sympathy to families, property and business owners throughout the constituency who have been devastated by floods. The Deputy commended the work done and dedication shown by the Defence Forces, Garda Síochána, Civil Defence, Local Authorities and communities and the Red Cross in battling the worst flooding in living memory.

As the clean-up begins, Fine Gael believes we must tackle the issue of flooding in the future to maintain public safety and avoid the severe social and economic hardship caused by serious flooding this time round.

Yesterday, the N65 Portumna/Borrisokane Road was impassable at Carrigahorig. Property owners and landowners from south of Killaloe/Ballina to Limerick City are on high alert as low lying areas of the River Shannon were at serious risk of flooding and the Borrisokane to Athlone Road was closed at Rathcabbin.

The Blackcastle Road out of Templemore is badly flooded yet again. This road has been prone to flooding for years but there seems to be no urgency in addressing these flooding black spots.  Meanwhile, residents continue to suffer. Blackcastle Road has been under consideration for a long time for remedial flooding works and Deputy Noel Coonan will be seeking assurances from the Government that funding is provided to implement OPW projects that have been planned locally.

Deputy Noel Coonan stated:

“Local roads will undoubtedly be in a dire condition when the floods subside and I’m calling on North Tipperary County Council to reinstate the temporary council staff who were let go during the year, to help with the clean-up and repair of our roads.  The Government has no co-ordinated and integrated flooding alert system or response plan in the event of serious flooding. It highlights the need for the Government to adapt to changing climate patterns and recognise that most other developed at-risk countries have advanced flood warning systems to minimise damage”.

This Fine Gael Motion will call on the Government to develop a new national flood alert system controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency and Met Éireann based on a system of flood alert codes resulting in co-ordinated preventative action from the local authorities, civil defence, the Office of Public Works, and the emergency services.

Fine Gael’s Environment spokesperson Phil Hogan TD has already highlighted how England and Wales use a similar system. In the UK, the Environment Agency, using the latest available technology, monitor rainfall, river levels and sea conditions 24 hours a day and use this information to forecast the possibility of flooding. If flooding is forecast, warnings are issued using a set of four easily recognisable codes:

1. Through the Environmental Agency website.

2. Through the media.

3. Direct to citizens’ homes and workplaces. This is by phone, text, email or pager.

4. Other methods. Flood wardens are employed in certain local communities and public address, loudhailer and siren systems are also used.

Deputy Coonan concluded:

“We are giving the Government a chance to vote with its feet and give people the maximum amount of warning to prevent this crisis from happening again. The full cost of the floods is yet to be determined but it will run into hundreds of millions and in the future we need a united rapid response.”

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