Last week's flooding in Donegal town
Temporary portable flood barriers and the removal of vegetation from the banks of the River Eske are among the options that may be considered to help prevent future flooding in Donegal town.
The options are among the short-term possibilities for tackling the flooding before permanent options can be put in place.
Homes and businesses in the town were flooded last week following heavy rain brought by Storm Lorenzo.
One house and four commercial premises were flooded on New Row.
Five dwellings in Brookefield and up to eight in Clarendon Drive were also affected by flooding as was a green area at St John Bosco Centre at Drumrooske.
Fire Brigades from Donegal Town, Ballyshannon, Killybegs, Stranorlar, Glenties and Letterkenny responded while Bundoran Fire Brigade responded to a flooding incident in the Bundoran area. There were also isolated flooding incidents in Ballintra, Laghey and Frosses. Donegal County Councils Roads crews also responded with two high-volume pumps and sandbagging in areas of Donegal town and were assisted by Donegal Civil Defence.
Some areas of the town have been flooded several times in recent years.
Donegal town has been put forward for a Catchment Flood Risk and Management (CFRAM) study but is among hundreds of town competing for funding.
Flood defence options
One option open to the Office of Public Works (OPW) is to cut back vegetation downstream from embankments on the Eske River to prevent water pooling.
This work could be carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and would improve the flow of water on specific stretches where flooding has occurred in recent years.
Another option is the deployment of a temporary boom which can be put in place at short notice to protect homes which flood frequently, such as those in Drumlonagher.
Almost €11million of funding for flood relief schemes in Donegal was announced last year. The funding included work in Burnfoot and Castlefinn, Ballybofey and Stranorlar, as well as Lifford, Glenties, Kerrykeel, Downings and Raphoe, but not Donegal town.
On Tuesday local councillors called for an engineering solution which will take into account the entire River Eske and the impact of climate change.
Area manager for roads and transportation Mark Sweeney’s told county councillors at the Donegal Municipal District meeting that Donegal town is one of two areas in the MD selected for further flood risk assessment.
“We should be doing everything in our power to get that further up the list,” he said. “There are 300 in the country. Donegal town needs to be at the design stage. They need to come in here and look at the Eske in its entirety.
“For those poor souls who got their homes flooded three times in four years and a few more near misses in between, we need to get that scheme pushed to the top of the list.”
Councillors had all called for an immediate response in an emergency motion put down to work on both short-term solutions and on a major long term remedial project.
Cllr Tom Conaghan (Ind) visited the affected areas last Friday.
He said: “We have to all work together on this.”
Cllr Conaghan and his fellow councillors were unanimous in calling for an urgent meeting with Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief.
Several councillors spoke out strongly against the minister for not following through on a previous promise to ensure that the Drumlonagher homes would not flood again.
Director of Services Garry Martin agreed that such a meeting was a priority.
“This could have been even worse if conditions had been against us,” he said. “Whatever is happening in the atmosphere, it is inevitable that this is going to happen again. Anything we can do collectively and collaboratively, we will do it.”
Councillors and officials thanked council workers, fire crews from across the county, the Civil Defence, members of the community and everyone who helped deal with the crisis on Friday morning.