Residents calculate cost of third inundation in 15 years

Crossmolina residents say they are caught in red tape preventing drainage works


As Crossmolina in Co Mayo began to dry out from yet another costly swamping by the Deel river yesterday, “people before pearl mussels” was the frequently repeated refrain.

For the second time in as many weeks and the third time this millennium, the waterway has overflowed causing hundreds of thousands worth of damage.

Local feelings are running high because the long-promised river Deel flood-relief scheme has not materialised.

Environmental issues are partly blamed for the delays because the protection of freshwater pearl mussels, crayfish, lampreys, salmon and otters must be addressed before the drainage works can begin.

As the waters receded yesterday, in nearby Claremorris sodden sandbags and piles of debris were testament to the problems of preceding days.

Salon owner Deirdre Queenan was livid when it came to environmental issues delaying the flood-relief scheme. Drainage measures are regarded as the panacea for the town’s recurring problems.

“Everybody seems to be passing the buck to somebody else,” she said. “Everything seems to be wrapped up in red tape and we [residents] are caught in the middle of it,” she said.

Pharmacist Darragh Quinn said sandbags had been put in place on Friday night but the speed with which the water rose took people by surprise.

“It came through the doors despite the sandbags. It came through the walls, rising to about 18in and destroying thousands of euro worth of stock and equipment,” he told Midwest Radio,

Most business people in Crossmolina believe the floods are “eminently preventable”. What is needed, they say, is leadership, so the river, as it makes it way to nearby Lough Conn, is cleaned and dragged.

In a statement, Taoiseach and Mayo TD Enda Kenny yesterday said a plan had been drawn up to deal with the town’s flooding problems. Design consultants are working on a revision to it and there is a meeting on Friday to progress it to the next stage. It is understood the Jack Garrett bridge in the town will be replaced.

Assuming no delays, it may be late 2016 or early 2017 before major construction can take place. Meanwhile, minor remedial works can be done by Mayo County Council.