Our floods are now so common some people think that Galway needs to build an ark!
Some blame global warming which is a factor. But why are our city’s flood defences still so poor?
There are two ways our flood defences are failing. The sea and streams overflowing are one and street drainage backing up is the other.
The businesses and people of Galway responded to the recent challenge. Volunteers helped council workers and the army. Businesses donated sandbags without complaint after paying taxes and rates which should cover the council having an Emergency Response Plan.
After a night of distributing and stacking donated sandbags to Galway residents and businesses, Social Democrats election candidate in Galway, Niall Ó Tuathail, says the council were ‘simply not good enough’ and ‘need to learn from this for future floods’.
Mr Ó Tuathail went on to say:
‘An amazing group of volunteers and council workers scrambled to get enough sandbags to protect businesses and homes. For example, EMC in Westlink Commercial Park in Oranmore donated 700 bags of ‘sandless sandbags’ worth almost €8,000. They were very easy to get around to homes and businesses at short notice while the Council and Army were preparing traditional sandbags. Kazanoo hairdressers on Fairhill Road also filled the sandless bags with water for distribution around Dominick Street. The council operatives and the army were up through the night clearing drains and filling sandbags – they don’t get enough credit for the work they have to do on nights like this.’
Ó Tuathail believes that the council needs to learn from this event for the future. He added:
‘Galway City and County Councils were simply not good enough yesterday. I know everyone worked hard after the first flood, but we must be better prepared as a city for floods that are becoming all the more common with climate change. There was an orange weather warning plus a record high tide. Either of those should have rung alarm bells in the councils and both together should have kicked off a process that would have prevented damage from the first floods.’
Council management must work in tandem for the future. Empty talk of merging councils for better efficiency won’t cut the mustard.
We need a plan to:
- Build a sea wall to defend the city against flooding.
- Build flood defences where streams burst their banks.
- Empty the canals in advance of flooding and divert street surface drainage into them
- Stockpile water-filled sandbags for quicker deployment in future floods.
A lot of these ideas may seem expensive or extreme, but not doing it is causing major costs to business and more importantly, risking loss of life.
Knowing Galway City Council, I wouldn’t be surprised if they built an ark instead!