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Residents left to battle floods

News

Council under fire for failing to build promised defences

Michael Gallagher

In a show of determination and fortitude, local residents tirelessly battled to prevent their homes in a Westport housing estate being flooded over the weekend.
For 72 hours the Cois Abhainn housing development was under threat as rain poured down relentlessly and a nearby river burst its banks. Homeowners held the water back by running pumps continuously and staying up through the night to protect their properties.
In 2016, funding was put in place for flood defences at the estate, but they have yet to be built by Mayo County Council.
The residents’ weekend ordeal was raised at Monday’s West Mayo Municipal District meeting in Castlebar by Cllr Christy Hyland. The frustrated Westport councillor questioned how it had only taken two years to build an international airport in Knock, yet Mayo County Council still had not put flood defences in place in Cois Abhainn, despite the funding being available for the past four years.
“These people had to sit up through the night, watching the water levels rise and praying that the pumps wouldn’t give out. Children went to bed on Sunday night thinking about school the next day, but knowing their homes could be flooded before morning came. “I sat with these people over the weekend, and to see what they were facing was just awful. We need the Environmental Section of the council to come in here and tell us when this is going to be solved.
“Four years ago, the estate suffered a terrible flooding problem, and funding was then put in place. All the surveys were done, everything was ready for action, yet nothing has changed. God bless Fr Horan, he built an airport above in Knock in two years, yet we’re four years waiting for these people to get the comfort of knowing their homes won’t flood.”
Cllr Brendan Mulroy agreed with his Westport colleague and said the situation is absolutely unacceptable, particularly when funding is in place to solve the problem.
“This should have been addressed long before this, and now we need to know what the timeline is for the work to be done. The funding is there, so I can’t see where the hold-up is. The people of Cois Abhainn need to feel safe in their own homes.”
Padraig Walsh, Head of the Municipal District, said the council had been on the scene over the weekend and will work with councillors in the coming days to improve the situation.