Several hundred kilometres of Waterford roads were partially or completely destroyed during the recent winter floods, according the City & County Council, with 31 properties damaged by flood waters since early December.
An initial survey by the local authority into the devastation caused by unprecedented rainfall in Waterford has noted the creation of lakes and ponds where none ever existed in several areas, as well as the collapse of embankments, mudslides and damage to farms and properties.
Overall costs for the weather and subsequent remedial works have been estimated at €19.526 million.
Mid and west Waterford suffered the wettest December in living memory and the highest rainfall of anywhere in the country in that period, the report stated, with average rainfall in excess of 400mm for the period.
Forty two per cent of this unprecedented rainfall fell in the nine day period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. While the total rainfall in East Waterford was less, the intensity of the rainfall there was still five or six times above normal.
Every river and stream in the county was pushed beyond capacity resulting in extensive flooding, much of it in the form of torrential flash floods.
Typical damage encountered by Council workers included ‘edge erosion’ caused by excessive flow in existing drains; ‘soft spots’ or ‘boil ups’ caused by the eruption of springs under the road surface which liquefy the road; surface damage caused by the flow or erosion by debris; and complete destruction of the road pavement as water stripped the surface and washed away the underlying stone.
The main coast road had to be closed in two places on numerous occasions as incoming tides pushed flood waters up over the banks and onto the road. The Council recorded evidence of two significant collapses of retaining embankments which necessitated partial or complete road closures, as well as damage to a number of bridges.
Considerable quantities of debris were washed onto the roads from fields and the removal of debris absorbed most of the Council’s resources for the week after Storm Frank.
While damage to the road sub-base is still unknown, the existence of water at such a high level in the ground will cause severe damage if a spell of persistent cold weather is experienced in the coming weeks, the report predicted.
A breakdown of the Council’s ‘storm bill’ of €19.526 constitutes €366,000 in clean-up costs; €11.365 million in road infrastructure damage; €2.3 million in coastal defences and infrastructure damage and €5.495 million in flood remediation works.
The clean-up costs of €366,000 include 8,500 additional hours worked from mid December, hire of machinery, materials and the additional cost of attendance by the retained fire brigade whom, the report said, provided an invaluable aid in reducing potential property damage and in the recovery and restoration period. This is in addition to an earlier claim for approximately €200,000 for the clean-up of the previous storms in early December which has been paid to the Council from central government.
On the coast, significant repair will be required at the Abbeyside beach wall (€250,000), the Abbeyside boardwalk wall (€250,000), the Kinsalebeg storm wall (€750,000), Ladies Slip over slabbing (€200,000), the pier at Boatstrand (€350,000) and the Annestown sea wall (€500,000).
Some of the more significant road infrastructure damage includes repairs at Woodstown The Gap – L4076 & L4078 (€500,000), the Woodstown Road at the Saratoga (€350,000 ), local roads at Ballyrafter (€300,000), the Ballyguiry Bridge (€200,000), the Old Waterford Road at Drumcannon (€250,000), the Dunhill Road (€175,000), O’Keeffes Cross to Sporthouse (€215,000), Coxtown (€195,000 ), the Bog Road at Castletown (€225,000) and Rathmoylan (€111,250 ).
With regard to flood alleviation works, the Council has applied for funding for a number of new ‘relatively inexpensive flood protection measures’ which could ‘eliminate the flooding problem’ in the future, the report notes.
These include works at the Tramore Road Roundabout and in the vicinity of the Inner Ring Road Roundabout and Cork Road. The report further pointed out that the city’s Flood Defence System prevented millions of euro worth of damage.