By Cate McCurry, PA
The Minister for Housing said families and business-owners affected by floods have suffered “a lot of trauma” after torrential rain hammered parts of Wexford.
Dozens of homes and businesses sustained damage after more than 40mm of rain fell in an hour in New Ross on Monday.
The freak weather also saw heavy hailstones and rainfall damaging premises and flood water entering businesses and homes.
A major clean-up operation is now under way across parts of the country hit by heavy downpours.
In #NewRoss #Wexford with @wexfordcoco to meet with some of the home & business owners who have been impacted by yesterdays floods.
Conveyed our thanks to the Council and Fire Service teams & @Civdef_Wex who have been responding since rain began yesterday. pic.twitter.com/EHRvWEJ0Kg
— Darragh O'Brien (@DarraghOBrienTD) August 16, 2022
Darragh O’Brien travelled to New Ross on Tuesday where he was given a briefing by Wexford County Council staff and fire officers.
He also went on a walk-about through the town where he spoke to several business owners hit by the flash flooding.
A number of businesses, including a picture-framing shop, pharmacy, toy shop, restaurant and dry cleaners, were hit by the floods.
Mr O’Brien said that severe damage was caused to homes and businesses.
“Thankfully, there was no loss of life, no significant injuries but a lot of trauma for families and for businesses,” he added.
“The fire and emergency services and the council responded extremely well and very efficiently. I was fully up to date on the situation right the way through yesterday evening.
“I wanted to come to New Ross to pay tribute to the work that has been done, but also to survey some of the homes that have been damaged, where people have had to be moved out on a temporary basis.
“I’ve been assured by the local authority today that anyone who has to be moved out of their home is being accommodated in temporary accommodation, while we make those homes good and we will help in any way to do that.
“I want to thank the fire and emergency team, our workers in the Wexford County Council and indeed the of Civil Defence who responded to an unprecedented weather event.”
Mr O’Brien said that support will be made available to people and business owners affected by flooding as the clean-up operation is under way.
The scheme, operated by the Department of Social Protection, is open to residents who may have lost belongings and suffered financial hardship due to the floods, the minister said.
He said Monday’s flooding was a “scary event” for those in the area.
Many council workers worked through Tuesday to repair damage caused to the streets and footpaths.
Residents, armed with mops and buckets, spent the morning and afternoon attempting to clear up the damage.
The Social Democrats spokesperson on climate and the environment, Jennifer Whitmore, said there needed to more discussion and action on tackling climate change.
She said the area experienced high temperatures last week, quickly followed by heavy downpours and flash floods.
“We need to have a lot more discussions about climate and the future and how we try to slow down climate change and stop it. But there is also the reality that it is here now,” the Wicklow TD said.
“We need to be looking at how we adapt and make changes that might just make it easier to slow down and prevent flooding.
“I don’t think people are considering climate change. I think people are slowly starting to realise but I do think there there is an element that people deal with these incidents on their own.
“So we have hot weather then floods and not really pulling it all together and seeing it as one big issue that we have to tackle.
Wexford - 2 images, 3 days apart.
Climate change is here, will get worse & rural communities will be hardest hit.
We need both climate #adaptation & #mitagation measures in place..now pic.twitter.com/N4TVELkYCj
— Jennifer Whitmore TD (@WhitmoreJen) August 15, 2022
“There is a lot more awareness than there used to be but a lot of people think about (climate change) in the future context. But the reality is we do have a changed climate.”
She said there are measures the Government can bring in now to mitigate against the worst of flooding.
“Things like upstream management of rivers so when we have floods, we’re using those flood plains to collect that excess water so it isn’t forced into towns.
“If houses were retrofitted with water tanks we could collect the water when there are downpours.”
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said her department will support householders affected by the severe flooding in Wexford.
She said officials from the department’s community welfare service are engaging with Wexford County Council and other agencies in response to the recent flooding.
The Humanitarian Assistance scheme in the Department of Social Protection has been activated.
The scheme provides financial assistance to householders affected by the flooding towards the replacement of essential personal belongings or household goods and appliances.
Ms Humphreys said: “Officials in my department are working with local agencies in Wexford to help those people whose homes have been impacted by the severe flooding.
“The Humanitarian Assistance Scheme has been activated and any families and individuals in need of assistance can contact our Community Welfare Service teams to assist with financial support.”