I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 98 together.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) undertakes routine inspections of all of its flood defences along the Shannon estuary.
During a routine inspection by OPW staff on the River Shannon Flood Defence Embankment system, damage to sluice outfall/embankment was noticed. The function of the sluice outfall allows the discharge of water from the area protected by the embankment to the estuary, and during high tides prevents tidal waters in the estuary backing up in to the protected area.
While repair works had started in mid-August, due to forecast high tides emergency repairs works were carried out on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st August. Unfortunately, these temporary works failed and water breached the embankments.
The OPW has now reconstructed an embankment at the breached area for the short term and is currently considering options for the construction of a permanent structure for the long term.
The OPW acknowledges that in trying to repair the damage to the sluice, the temporary structures did not initially provide the level of protection provided by the embankments and did lead to flooding in the area.
The OPW were in contact with the local authority over the weekend in question and sandbags were provided to the affected houses. Several pumps were also deployed to the area.
In relation to the five houses directly affected, four families were evacuated to a nearby hotel over the weekend of Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September. The OPW has met with and written to these homeowners and apologised for the damage to their house and contents caused by this exceptional situation.
The OPW has engaged a loss adjuster to help establish the quantum of costs in restoring the houses and contents affected to their pre flooding position. The loss adjuster visited these five houses on Thursday 5th September. The OPW has advised the homeowners that while this is an independent assessment, the OPW appreciates that some homeowners have engaged their own loss assessor and the OPW will cover the cost for that service.
The OPW will fund the costs of alternative accommodation, if needed, for the duration of restoration works.
The loss adjuster has also visited the sporting facilities affected and is working to establish the quantum of costs involved in restoring these facilities to their pre flooding position.
I visited the area on Sunday 1st September and met with those affected and I am anxious that an early resolution for all those directly affected by this flood event is found without delay.
I want to take this opportunity to again thank the affected homeowners for their ongoing co-operation.