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Extreme Weather Response - Household and Road Infrastructure

Case Study:

Extreme Weather Response - Household and Road Infrastructure


On Tuesday 22nd August 2017, an extreme pluvial rainfall event (one in 100 years) occurred in Donegal, which caused extensive damage and disruption, particularly to communities in the Inishowen peninsula. Both the immediate response and the subsequent actions to deal with the damage and disruption caused by the event were led and co-ordinated by Donegal County Council with 106 incidents responded to by the fire service.
It became clear at an early stage in the response that the damage to communities, particularly in Inishowen, was widespread and severe (Figure 1). Households were flooded suddenly and to great depths. The damage to road infrastructure was extensive, and many bridges and culverts were badly damaged.

Figure 1: Flood damages, Inishowen, 2017.


The fire service responded to the emergency with nine different brigades and 85 firefighters deployed in conjunction with Donegal Civil Defence and the Irish Coast Guard, prioritising rescue and lifesaving operations.

Donegal County Council’s roads services were deployed in the affected areas, initially responding to reports of flooding on roads, then erecting signage and applying road closures and diversions as the event developed. There was also widespread disruption to water services as a result of the event and Council staff, working under a Service Level Agreement with Irish Water, were deployed to address the disruption.

Services worked with An Garda Síochána and Donegal County Council to maintain ambulance services in areas where roads were severely damaged. Several families were assisted by Donegal County Council’s housing section to arrange and relocate to temporary accommodation.

The Council’s Communications Office commenced an advisory service through social and traditional media, and liaised with the incident managers in both the fire and roads services to ensure that up-todate information was provided.

Benefits of Solution

Work is ongoing to agree on an approach to deal with debris in rivers that could cause problems at a later date.

Costs for the initial emergency response and clean-up were in the region of €1-1.5m. Post-event questionnaires identified in excess of 600 locations (roads and bridges) under Council responsibility that required repair or
reconstruction at an estimated cost of €15.3m for roads infrastructure alone. In addition, substantial repair and replacement costs are being incurred for other infrastructure such as housing stock, parks, etc.

The Council’s Communication’s Office was crucial in providing key information to the public via local media outlets, its own website, Facebook, and Twitter in the days and weeks following the event. Key information included updates on road conditions; closures and openings; housing supports and assistance; financial assistance schemes; clean-up supports and assistance available; Health Service Executive supports; and, contact telephone numbers including an out-of-hours number. A press release on the flood recovery was issued each day in the week following and social media posts were posted regularly on each of the items above. The Council also responded to queries from the public via Facebook and Twitter.

An information leaflet with useful contact numbers was also circulated via An Post to each household in the Inishowen peninsula to facilitate those without Internet access.

Project Details:

The flooding event occurred on 22nd and 23rd August 2017. The subsequent repairs and remedial works took place over the subsequent weeks, months, and years.
Local authority project contact
Éadaoin Healy
Tel: 074 915 3900