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Early winter flu and floods hitting the Irish hard

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  • Early winter flu and floods hitting the Irish hard

    HUMAN IMPACT: AS FLOOD levels remain critical in parts of south and east Galway, HSE West?s principal psychologist says people directly affected face an ?enormous challenge? in coping with post-traumatic stress.

    Communities will cope better than families living in isolated areas, but most have not yet had time to hit their psychological ?low? point, says HSE West principal psychologist Clare Gormley.

    ?People who have had to leave their homes will be very tired, very shocked and still very busy,?she told The Irish Times . ?So the demand for our services would not have peaked yet.?

    HSE West has been running a counselling telephone help-line since last Monday and has prepared a ?coping strategy ? document which will be distributed nationally by the HSE through health centres and GPs.

    The help-line is run by a group of 10 staff trained in counselling ?post-trauma support?, while community welfare officers are running separate phone lines.

    ?One of the issues that international research on the impact of natural disasters shows is that people will have a complete loss of confidence, and a feeling that there is no normality,? Ms Gormley said. ?This is hitting people early in the winter in an unprecedented year of swine flu, recession, job losses or income reduction. To lose a home to flooding on top of that is an enormous challenge to cope with.

    ?And it is different to a fire because there will be a fear that this is something that could recur.

    ?Extreme reactions are normal. People will feel very, very helpless, and research shows that community support is a key positive factor which can be empowering and unifying

    Galway County Council has had crews on standby over the weekend due to a forecast of between 20mm and 40mm of rain.

    In south Galway, the Shannon is still ?higher than 1954? and very close to the village of Clonfert, but its level has dropped about 15in, according to Irish Farmers Association vice-president Michael Silke.

    IFA environment spokesman Michael Kelly said the flooding had left an ?enormous psychological imprint? on people. Visitors? centres at Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee near Gort were surrounded by water, a number of villages between Gort and Kinvara were still trying to cope with flood waters, and people are ?distraught?.

    ?We are afraid that this will now be forgotten about because it has already disappeared off the television screens now that roads are reopening,?Mr Kelly said.

    The HSE West help-line is 1800 245 600 (9.30am to 5.30pm weekdays). The HSE flooding help-line is 1800 283 036 (daytime hours).

  • #2
    Re: Early winter flu and floods hitting the Irish hard

    It has indeed been a bad time. I lived in Cork, on the south coast, for twenty years. It was prone to flooding, but this seems to have been a major disaster. The problems of supplying fresh water to 80,000 people for a week boggle the mind. Households, I believe, were limited to two gallons per day.

    By Eoin English, Shaun Connolly, Fiachra O Cionnaith and Dan Collins

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    THE Government has not yet decided if emergency funding will be provided in areas devastated by the worst flooding in living memory, estimated to exceed ?100 million in insurance claims.
    In Cork city there is mounting concern that water supplies to some 18,000 homes may not be restored for a week.

    The authorities have warned of a public health crisis unless precautions are taken by the estimated 80,000 people ? almost half the city?s population ? still left without water after the city?s main water treatment plant at the Lee Road was swamped in Thursday?s massive floods.

    Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Environment Minister John Gormley said it was too early to say if a national emergency fund will be created.
    "The immediate priority is to deal with the situation as is. Whatever consequences arise from this will have to be assessed and looked at and see what can be done," Mr Cowen said.

    The Taoiseach will travel to Cork, Tipperary, Galway and Clare today to see at first hand the devastation caused by the flooding.
    Mr Gormley said it would not be possible to gauge the full scale of the damage in Cork, Galway and Clare until the middle of the week. "Things are very bad," he said.
    "I think it?s fair to say what we are experiencing at the moment is unprecedented."
    The Cabinet was briefed on the situation in Cork, Galway and other affected areas yesterday by the Emergency Co-ordination Committee as controversy continued to rage over the handling of the flood crisis in the Lee Valley.

    Fine Gael demanded an independent inquiry into the cause of the flooding as Mr Gormley defended the ESB?s decision to release water from the Inniscarra Dam, eight miles upstream of the city. "They (ESB) believed that if they had not acted? the consequences could have been even more grave and I think that?s what has to be borne in mind by everybody," said the minister.
    Mr Gormley said ?50m would be put into flood defences nationally next year, but Labour accused the Government of dragging its feet over the issue.

    Meanwhile, large insurance firms have been dealing with as many as 1,000 claims a day since the flooding began and one industry source said the overall cost of the crisis is likely to surpass the ?100m claims expense from the country?s last major floods in August 2008.
    Due to the high costs involved, a number of firms are investigating whether the ESB should be held responsible for the major pay-out.

    In Cork emergency water supplies, which were introduced at 10 locations across the city on Friday night, will be extended over the coming days.
    The Army, Civil Defence and Red Cross will be available 24 hours a day for as long as it takes, to ensure the emergency supply is maintained.

    Residents who still have water in their taps have been advised that it is safe to drink.
    "They may experience difficulty with pressure and colouration but it is good quality water and fit for use. Anyone with any concerns should by all means boil their water," said the director of the city council?s environment directorate, Gerry O?Beirne.
    Some 80,000 people are still relying on a relay of tankers and standing water hydrants for their drinking water. Engineers worked throughout the weekend to pump flood water from the damaged Lee Road water plant.

    Speaking at a special media conference, Cork City Manger Joe Gavin described the flooding situation as "absolutely unprecedented" but stressed that the full resources of the state are available to respond to the crisis.
    Mr Gavin declined to comment on the ESB?s decision to release water from the Inniscarra Dam in the early hours of Friday morning.
    "We want to concentrate all our energy and resources on dealing with the consequences of what happened. We will deal with other issues when this crisis is over," he said.

    Eircom crews working nationwide have managed to restore telephone and broadband service to 20,000 customers affected by the floods. The areas worst hit were parts of west Cork, Galway and Clare, where emergency work is still continuing.

    Hundreds of people evacuated from their homes in Ballinasloe, Co Galway and Ennis, Co Clare have not yet been allowed to return to their properties.
    The Defence Forces have been deployed to some of the worst-hit areas to help local emergency services, and remain on high alert should conditions deteriorate.

    This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, November 23, 2009

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    Mardyke residents demand assurances on dams
    By Eoin English

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    THE residents of one of Cork city?s most famous areas want Government assurances that the dams on the River Lee are safe.

    The residents of the Mardyke have also expressed fears they will be "washed away and found in Youghal", if the dams fail in the event of another major flood.

    They have called a special meeting in the new year to seek assurances from the Government and the ESB that the dams are safe.

    "The ESB has stated that the two dams, at Carrigadrohid, and the main one at Inniscarra, are designed for a 1-in-10,000-year flood," residents spokesman Barry Keane said. "The flood on Thursday, November 19, came far too close to the design limits of the Lee Hydro Scheme for comfort."

    The Carrigadrohid Dam was designed for a flow rate of 600 cubic metres of water per second. With the construction of a spillway in the mid 1980s, its capacity was increased to 850 cubic metres per second.

    The water that fell in the Lee catchment area above the dams in the days leading up to the massive November 19 flood was in the order of 800 cubic metres per second, according to the ESB, close to maximum capacity of Carrigadrohid.

    "Put simply, if the Carrigadrohid dam failed on November 19, it would have taken Inniscarra with it and a 12-metre flood would have hit Cork city," Mr Keane said. "This flood would have reached the top of the Mercy Hospital."

    The residents want the ESB to state whether or not the dams have been inspected since the flood and to state when the last independent review of dam safety took place.

    The residents criticised the ESB for describing last month?s flood as "a one-in-a-800-year" event.

    "Yet, they described the 1986 flood as a one-in-1,000-year flood when it happened 23 years ago," Mr Keane said. "How many 1-in-a-thousand year floods can we expect in a thousand years?"

    The residents? meeting is scheduled for January 11.

    This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, December 08, 2009

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