The recent storms predominately affected the West and the South West of the country. As a result it can be more difficult for people not residing in or without connections to these areas to comprehend the severity of the damage that has been caused. Homes and businesses have been flooded, walls and sea defences have collapsed, roads and walkways have been washed away, and debris has been scattered across coastal areas.
This damage to the infrastructure has implications for safety, mobility and accessbility in coastal communities. Repairs and the clean-up operation must progress.
Our City and County Councils are at the front line in terms of leading the clean-up and repair work to our infrastructure. Part of this involves assessing the damage to determine the level of support that will be required from Government. A meeting of the National Co-ordinating Group for Severe Weather has taken place and the Taoiseach will brief the cabinet at the first cabinet meeting of 2014 next week.
Existing supports and funding are already in place at the relevant departments and agencies including: the Office of Public Works, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. In particular, the Department of Social Protection’s Humanitarian Assistance Relief Scheme is providing assistance such as temporary accommodation.
While Galway City Council, County Council and Mayo County Council among other local authorities are already assessing the damage and compiling reports, the photos available at https://www.facebook.com/SeanKyneTD#!/media/set/?set=a.657369390990913.1073741825.270853452975844&type=1 show the severity of the damage and the scale of the relief and repair effort that will be needed.
The option of applying for financial assistance from the EU’s Solidarity Fund. The fund was established in 2002 and has been accessed on 56 occasions by 23 Member States. Ireland last accessed the fund for €13m following the flooding in November 2009.