Donegal County Council faces €9m weather repair bill
By Declan Magee
The damage caused in Donegal by the severe weather earlier this winter will cost in the region of €9m to repair.
The total includes an estimated bill of repairing damage to the county's roads of over €8 million.
The figures were presented by officials to the monthly meeting of Donegal County Council yesterday. Officials presented a report on the impact of the 40 days of severe weather experienced in November and December.
On top of a bill of over €8m for roads, the council's water and environment directorate is facing an estimated cost of between€700,000 and €800,000. The council's housing directorate says the cost of repairs to housing will be around €120,000 with an overtime bill of €7,200.
Insurance will cover almost all of the cost of the housing repairs, the council said. Repairs to council housing ranged from €200 to €5,000 for individual houses.
The biggest damage to roads was inflicted in the Stranorlar electoral area where the estimated cost of repairs has been put at €3m. In the Letterkenny electoral area the cost is put at €2.5m. The Glenties electoral area is facing a repair bill of €1m while €900,000 will need to be spent in Inishowen and the cost of repairs in the Donegal electoral area is put at €650,000.
Director of Services for roads and transportation, John McLaughlin, told the meeting the council has already recouped €850,000 to spend on roads from the department of environment.
He said it does not appear that extra funding will come from the department of transport but the council will be able to substitute schemes on the restoration improvement schemes with repairs caused by frost damage.
County Manager Seamus Neely said preliminary first estimates indicated that additional expenditure of between €1.5m and €2m has been incurred to date.
"In the event we do not obtain a supplementary allocation we will need to review the programme of priority spending plans to reallocate funds from other services to deal with emergency work," he said.
During the severe weather the council suffered a serious shortage of salt which forced it to reduce the number of priority roads that it could treat for a period.
The main issues around the supply of salt are whether the National Roads Authority will continue to supply salt or whether local authorities will take back the purchasing of salt which was handed to the NRA following the severe weather last winter. How much storage will be held locally, nationally and with salt suppliers will also have to be resolved, Mr. McLaughlin said.
The council's emergency out of hours service provided from Co. Cork has been criticised by councillors for failing to give an adequate service.
The county manager said yesterday that an out of hours service will continue to be the first point of contact but when a "significant incident is reported" a council-staffed call centre will be set up.