THE ARMY was called in to help a Dublin local authority fill breaches in its coastline over the weekend after 1,000 sandbags laid on Friday and Saturday were stolen by Sunday.
Fingal County Council workers had laid sandbags to fill gaps in coastal walls in the Sutton and Baldoyle area. However, when council staff returned to these areas on Sunday morning to put extra preventative measures in place they discovered a significant number of sandbags had gone missing.
The local authority had to call in the Defence Forces to provide emergency sandbags at short notice before the storm hit on Sunday evening.
A spokeswoman confirmed that, following last week’s coastal flood risk warning, the council immediately began to implement flood prevention measures along the east coast with priority given to areas which had experienced flooding in the past.
About 7,000 sandbags were distributed to homes and businesses in these areas.
“In addition to this almost 1,600 sandbags were used to protect gaps in the coast walls at Baldoyle and Sutton and at some other locations along the coast. These were the smaller, more traditional type of sandbag.
“Other flood prevention measures such as digging out outfalls and clearing and checking screens were also carried out,” the spokeswoman said.
“On Sunday morning, in the region of 1,000 sandbags used to provide defences in these coastal walls were discovered to have been dismantled and removed. It was imperative that replacement protection be supplied as soon as possible to these locations. The council had a supply of additional sandbags; however, these were intended for last-minute calls from members of the public.”
As a result the council had to acquire additional sandbags from McKee barracks, which were laid by council workers on Sunday.
To ensure that these flood defence barriers remained in place, council staff remained in these locations for a number of hours on Sunday evening and Sunday night.
“We had crews there who would otherwise have been providing extra help to the public who instead had to be diverted to ensure the sandbags were not stolen,” the spokeswoman said.
She added that it was “extremely unhelpful” that it was necessary for the council, which has fewer staffing and financial resources available to it than in previous years, to redirect scarce resources to redo flood prevention works which had already been carried out.
The spokeswoman said it was difficult to see how members of the public might have mistaken the sandbags as being available for general use as it was “fairly obvious that they were there to protect the gaps in the coastal walls”.
The theft of the sandbags has not been reported to gardaí.