By Dan Walsh at Enniscorthy
About twenty-eight homes were flooded, twelve in Bridgetown and of eight bridges serious damaged, four of them have been wiped out entirely, following the Christmas Day torrential rainfall when more than 3.5 inches fell in 24 hours. More damage may emerge in the coming weeks as safety inspections are carried out across Co. Wexford.
Minister Patrick O’Donovan with responsibility for the Office of Public Works visited Enniscorthy this afternoon where he surveyed the flooding in the town and met with officials and public representatives who were seeking support for the flood relief scheme planned for the town.
The attendance included Minister James Browne, Deputy Verona Murphy, Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy, Cathaoirleach Wexford County Council, Cllr Cathal Byrne, Cathaoirleach Enniscorthy Municipal District, Cllr Jackser Owens, Tom Enright, Chief Executive Officer, Wexford County Council, Tadhg O’Corcora, Senior Executive Engineer and Liz Hore, Director of Services.
Wexford County Council’s Emergency Management Team met this afternoon to review the impact of the devastation.
Hundreds of people were forced to put their Christmas Day celebrations on hold as local river networks across the county became inundated and unable to cope with the staggering water volumes, described by many locals as “unprecedented in living memory” and of “biblical proportions.” Flooding was reported in many parts of the county as early as 8am on Christmas morning.
Scores of Council workers, including Fire fighters, road crews, civil defence volunteers and support staff were called to assist as flood waters breached riverbanks in all parts of the county.
The Council’s Out of Office emergency phoneline recorded more than 250 calls throughout the day as members of the public sought assistance from the Council to protect their properties against the rising flood waters. More than 3.000 sandbags were deployed at scores of locations and while these did offer protection to householders in many areas, not every home managed to escape the flood waters
One of the areas worst affected was the village of Bridgetown, where the local canal burst its banks in the early morning, flooding neighbouring houses to a depth of more than a metre. Fire crews and trained civil defence personnel used boats and rafts to assist those trapped by the rising waters. Many of those forced to leave their homes took shelter with friends and neighbours with others availing of temporary emergency accommodation provided by Wexford County Council.
In Enniscorthy, the River Boro surged to unprecedented levels, sweeping away road bridges at Kilcarbry Mill and Wilton, Bree. A rapidly rising River Slaney once more flooded Enniscorthy town, with both Templeshannon Quay and Abbey Quay flooded and closed to traffic, with diversions in place.
Flood waters also destroyed road bridges at Chapel Clonroche, Cullenstown Little, Wellingtonbridge, Mangan, Hollyfort and Ballyroebuck Ferns, with reports still coming in of further road damage in many parts of the county and road diversions in place.
Wexford County Council continues to advise those travelling to drive with extreme caution, and to drive at night only ifessential, as hazards such as flood water and damaged roads may be difficult to see.
Despite the surging flood waters in the river network, water quality at all Council public water treatments has remained excellent, with no public water supply quality issues to report.
As flood waters recede throughout this afternoon and this evening, Wexford County Council has deployed road sweepers in many parts of the county to help remove debris from roads and footpaths in the worst affected areas.
The Council’s Environment Department has also issued an appeal to farmers whose slurry tanks may have filled with surface water to avoid the temptation to spread slurry on already waterlogged fields, as the resulting runoff can have a devastating polluting impact on neighbouring rivers and streams.
Over the coming days Wexford County Council staff will carry out a comprehensive survey of the county’s road network to fully assess the scale of the damage caused and put a repair plan in place. While it is still too early to put an estimate on the repair bill, the Council says that significant government funding will be required to remediate the huge damage caused by the unprecedented flooding.
Anybody wishing to report incidents to Wexford County Council can contact the Council’s Out-of Hours Emergency Number 1890 666 777.