Residents threaten to take their case to Europe
on 23/03/2013 00:00:00
Furious residents, whose homes were swamped by up to four feet of water on Thursday night, said the time for reports is over - now it's time for action.
They criticised the OPW for dragging its heels on the appointment of experts to prepare flood plans for Cork.
And they also criticised Cork City Council for the lack of flood warning, and for overseeing recent engineering works local experts believe contributed to the flash flood.
They have now demanded immediate Government action to ensure the village is flood-proofed once and for all.
But the Irish Examiner has learned that it will be next year at the earliest before flood defence proposals for Cork City are published. It could be several years before funding is provided and work begins.
Blackpool community council chairman Bill Dunlea said residents are considering taking their case to Europe. "We are determined to go all the way with this," he said.
City manager Tim Lucey, who visited the area on Thursday night to assess the damage, is preparing a report on the flood for Monday's council meeting.
"I can absolutely understand the frustration of local people," he said.
"It's a highly unfortunate situation. We checked the screens in the culvert at 4pm and 7pm and they were clear. Unfortunately, they started to block up thereafter and a tractor tyre was washed down."
He said the council didn't issue a flood warning because his officials were not issued with a severe weather warning by Met Éireann.
He urged the OPW to proceed with the appointment of consultants to develop proposals which will lead to a flood relief scheme for Cork City.
It is expected to include specific proposals to tackle flooding in Blackpool and an area in Ballyvolane hit by last June's flash flood.
But the OPW said it is still in the process of appointing those consultants to develop proposals which it said "will lead to a flood relief scheme that is economically viable and environmentally acceptable being brought forward".
"It is hoped that consultants will be appointed in the next few weeks with the aim of putting proposals to the general public in early 2014," said minister of state Brian Hayes.
"There will be extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders and at least two public information days this year, the second of which will see the emerging scheme being presented to the public before the formal consultation process begins in 2014."
Lord mayor, Cllr John Buttimer, who also visited the area, said the time for delay and prevarication by the OPW is over, and he has sought an urgent meeting with Mr Hayes.
"The OPW must be accountable for their plans to put in place effective, meaningful and immediate flood protection measures for Blackpool and other areas of the city and county," he said.
Two shop workers feared for their lives after being trapped in a store room by rising flood waters.
Caroline Kelleher and Lucas Korepta were forced to retreat to a raised storage area to the rear of the O'Donovan's Off Licence outlet in the centre of Blackpool on Thursday night as flood waters surged in.
Such was the speed of the rising flood, and such was the depth of the water, they had to wait almost two hours before the water receded to allow them leave safely.
Their employer, Gary O'Donovan, who manages the O'Donovan's Off Licence chain in Cork, said he now has serious concerns for the health, safety and welfare of his staff, and of other people working in Blackpool, who are living with the threat of flooding.
He said he was shocked at how quickly the flood waters rose.
"This all happened in the space of 10 or 20 minutes," he said.
Flood prevention works for Blackpool are now a critical health and safety issue, he added.
"The danger now is that someone could be killed. It's a serious health and safety issue now," he said.
"Our Blackpool outlet is in the eye of the storm. This is a time to be proactive. There is a problem and there needs to be a priority to solve it. This can't be allowed to happen over and over again."