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Bray Town Council does not have an Emergency Flood Plan in case of major flooding, as of 14th June, 2006. Nor is flooding mentioned in Wicklow County Council's Emergency Plan. Yet the imminent danger of flooding - and Pizarro's willingness to pay for flood protection works, provided they are allowed to build on the flood plain - has been cited as the main reason why Fianna Fail, Labour and Fine Gael councillors voted to rezone the flood plain...

At our Public Meeting on 29th May, 2006, our community put together the following suggestions for a draft Flood Emergency Plan. This document was sent on 13th June, 2006, to Cllr. John McManus, chairperson of Bray Town Council's Community, Cultural, Social and Environmental Municipal Policy Committee. Cllr. McManus had already undertaken, on behalf of his committee, to preparing such a plan, and we have asked for community involvement in its speedy completion and implementation.

Little Bray Community - Suggestions for Emergency Flood Plan:

  1. Triggering Flood Alarm:
    • An electronic flow meter to be placed high up the river to calibrate peak flow in times of flood, with another at the mouth of the harbour to calibrate peak flow in times of highest tide: this would then have to be calculated over a period of time to give proper data analysis so that a potential flood situation can be pre-empted;
    • Electronic depth analysis gauges should be placed at two or three points along the river: when the river triggers the gauges this would automatically send an alarm signal to whoever is in charge of the emergency plan which can then be set in motion;
    • The current CCTV system should be adapted for monitoring the river until the above gauges are put in place: the Gardai, who could set the Emergency Plan in motion, already monitors them.
  2. Alerting the Community:
    • There should be one designated co-ordinator to oversee and implement the plan, when and if needed;
    • When the electronic gauges are triggered a siren, like the old Fire Brigade siren, should be sounded, giving the residents time to put protection in place within their own homes.
  3. Evacuation:
    • An up-to-date listing of all residents of the Dargle flood basin should be given to nominated Gardai, Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, Bray Town Council, and Wicklow County Council personnel. This listing should clearly show one-storey homes and ground-floor flats within the flood basin; and the homes of elderly and/or disabled people (including those living in two-storey houses), particularly those living alone. These people should be prioritised for evacuation, and their homes for sandbagging;
    • Emergency shelter/housing for evacuees should be identified now, along with appropriate first aid, sanitary needs and food provisions for those who are out of their home in an emergency, and list made available to named personnel above.
  4. Putting Protection in Place:
    • Several ‘centres’ (huts) containing sandbags should be in place along the flood basin, so that residents can access sandbags when a flood alert is sounded;
    • Teams (Council, Civil Defence, army) should be available to help residents who cannot transport/fill and place sandbags at their homes.
  5. Afterwards:
    • A separate plan needs to be put in place to deal with the aftermath of any emergency. Areas that need to be considered include cleaning and sanitising of all public areas, assisting the public to remove soiled furniture etc from their environment quickly and at no extra cost to the householder. Fresh water supplies immediately available, along with emergency heating supplies, and an army food kitchen, if necessary. Emergency first aid should be available, along with a temporary place for the dead in the worst case scenario.

In our accompanying e-mail to the above committee, we added:

"In addition to the immediate compilation of the Emergency Plan, we were asked to bring to your attention that the Dargle River channel urgently needs cleaning, de-silting, widening and deepening, as per your Council's commitment. This is the time of the year, according to the Barry Report, when such work should take place.

"It was also proposed at our Public Meeting that non-return valves should be put in place on all sewerage works in our area to prevent the upsurge of sewerage that took place during the last flood, before the river topped its banks."

Concerns about the lack of an emergency plan were graphically illustrated at our Public Meeting by a senior resident of the one-storey Maitland Street cottages. Mrs. Vickers explained that she had telephoned the Council's emergency phone line during recent heavy rain, on a night when the river was dangerously high, and was told that "no sandbags would be available till morning".

Cllr. John Brady, who attended the meeting, added that he had been informed by a council official that the reason the hut by the harbour was not available - as promised - to a local youth group was because it is used to store sandbags. He was then told by another official that sandbags are not, and never were, stored there. Where are the sandbags if we need them tonight in a flood...?

Meanwhile, if there are any other communities out there - or people involved in fighting floods - who can suggest how our Emergency Plan might be improved, we would be delighted to hear from you at the e-mail address below. We will pass on any suggestions received to Bray Town Council's Community, Cultural, Social and Environmental Municipal Policy Committee, as well as publishing them on this page.

  Bray Bridge from the river walk

Bray Bridge
from the river walk

(click here to enlarge)

 
 

e-mail: swap@braywatch.com