Laois County Council flood defence update two months after Mountmellick flood

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Laois County Council flood defence update two months after Mountmellick flood

Evacuation in Mountmellick. Pic Kevin Byrne

After public outrage at a lack of communication over flooding in Mountmellick and Portarlington, Laois County Council has released an update.

Two months after severe flooding hit Mountmellick on November 22, Laois County Council has outlined some measures it intends to take to prevent such flooding from reoccurring.

Mountmellick flood support group start a petition to get answers.

Senior members of Laois County Council and Officials from the Office of Public Works met last week in Mountmellick to discuss future flood defence plans.

A statement has been released by the local authority outlining what it has done since November and what it is "considering" doing in the future.

"Work will commence as a matter of urgency in preparing the detailed design and engineering specification for flood defences in Mountmellick.

"The detailed design will include a review of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management mapping (CFRAM) and the identification of any additional flood defences necessary for the town.

"Laois County Council will establish a Project Office locally to manage the design, implementation and construction of a flood relief scheme on behalf of and in partnership with the OPW.

"The Project Office will also manage the design and construction of flood relief measures considered necessary for Portarlington," it stated.

Laois County Council has said that since the flooding in November, it has undertaken a programme of river channel clearance in the Blackwater and Owenass catchments.

Also since November, an analysis and assessment of damage caused to roads and bridges has been carried out. The council intends to make a submission for funding for repairs to the relevant government departments.

After a weekend of anxiety in Mountmellick where thousands of sandbags were filled and piled high against doors, Laois County Council has now said it is "considering" an improved flood/rainfall community alert system.

WATCH: Mountmellick prepares for the worst as uncertainty lingers over flood risk.

The Mountmellick Flood Community Support group was inundated with questions at the weekend about sandbags and flood defences when there was uncertainty over the river levels.

Laois fire service and county council staff respond to stream of flooding incidents.

The group criticized the local authority for its lack of detailed communication during this time and since November.

Laois County Council has said it is also considering further river and channel clearance works and the provision, on a pilot basis, of defence equipment for flood prone and flood affected homes.

"The Council notes the recent trend of increased flood risk and severe weather events in the county.

"In this respect Laois County Council is currently preparing a local Climate Adaptation Strategy in accordance with agreed guidelines and will work with the recently established Regional Climate Change Offices throughout Ireland in order to plan for future strategic and operational responses to the phenomenon of climate change and changes in seasonal weather patterns.

"The new Flood Relief project office will work hand in hand with OPW and the Regional Climate Change Office to ensure future resilience in flood relief works in north Laois and the upper Barrow Catchment Area.

"The Local Authority also wishes to convey its’ thanks to the many residents of Mountmellick and Portarlington who supported and assisted all those affected by flooding in both communities," it stated.

Read the full statement from Laois County Council below:

Flooding in Mountmellick and Portarlington

Following the severe and unprecedented flooding of November 22nd 2017 in north Laois, Laois County Council wishes to advise that it has agreed with the Office of Public Works (OPW) the following measures:

(i) Work will commence as a matter of urgency in preparing the detailed design and engineering specification for flood defences in Mountmellick;

(ii) the detailed design will include a review of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management mapping (CFRAM) taking into account the recorded flood depths of November 22nd , 2017 and the identification of any additional flood defences necessary for the town and;

(iii) Laois County Council will establish a Project Office locally to manage the design, implementation and construction of a flood relief scheme on behalf of and in partnership with the OPW. The Project Office will also manage the design and construction of flood relief measures considered necessary for Portarlington.

Short term assistance
Laois County Council is currently considering further short term actions including an improved flood/rainfall community alert system, further river and channel clearance works and the provision, on a pilot basis, of defence equipment for flood prone and flood affected domestic properties.

Regional Climate Change Offices
The Council notes the recent trend of increased flood risk and severe weather events in the County and the Country at large. In this respect Laois County Council is currently preparing a local Climate Adaptation Strategy in accordance with agreed guidelines and will work with the recently established Regional Climate Change Offices throughout Ireland in order to plan for future strategic and operational responses to the phenomenon of climate change and changes in seasonal weather patterns. The new Flood Relief project office will work hand in hand with OPW and the Regional Climate Change Office to ensure future resilience in flood relief works in north Laois and the upper Barrow Catchment Area.

Actions / Works carried out by Laois County Council since 22nd November 2017
At the time of the November 2017 flooding event The Council, including its engineering and outdoor crews along with Laois County Council Fire Services supported by Laois County Council Civil Defence and the Defence Forces aided with the substantial clean-up, provision of Skips, provision of De-humidifiers and emergency repairs to damaged infrastructure as well as the provision of emergency accommodation by the Housing Section of Laois County Council. Laois County Council also established a Humanitarian Aid Office in Mountmellick for a period after the event to support the locals affected by the extreme flood event in November 2017 – Laois County Council committed funds of over €208,000 to these efforts.
In the period since the severe flooding in November, the Council has undertaken a programme of river channel clearance in the Blackwater & Owenass catchments.
Also in this period a detailed analysis and assessment of damage caused to Roads and bridges has been carried out in order to make a submission for funding for repairs to the relevant government departments
The Local Authority also wishes to convey its’ thanks to the many residents of Mountmellick and Portarlington who supported and assisted all those affected by flooding in both communities.