In Nov and Dec 2009, Ireland was hit by extensive floods. Last night, there were floods in Dublin. The damage is probably smaller, but this time a life seems to have been lost.
After the 2009 floods, a number of deficiencies in flood control and emergency management were noted. See Hickey (behind paywall), Oireachtas, Tol. However, as I noted last year, this was not translated into action. More money has been allocated to flood control, but the institutional structures that failed in 2009 have been left unreformed.
In 2009, there were issues with emergency management too. They showed up again last night. There was local flooding from five o’clock onwards, and more rain predicted, but the emergency plan was not invoked until nine o’clock, when river banks had already been burst and with less than one-and-a-half hour to go till high tide. Warnings to the public were late, and little information was provided about what to expect where and when. Twitter was the best source of information, although facts were freely mixed with spoofs, jokes, and bitter disputes about the correct spelling of fliuch.
After the 2009 floods, a number of conferences were organized with speakers from Great Britain on the state of the art in the urban management of pluvial floods. No lessons seem to have been learned.
Anticipation is key in emergency management. If you know where the water will go next, you can move people, goods, and traffic out of harm’s way before damage is done. If all you can do is react, chaos will ensue and damages are unnecessarily high.