Flood Resilience

Cill Ronain Harbour. Client, Galway County Council. Engineer, Punch Consulting Engineers. Contractor, BAM Contractors

In recent years there have been examples of widespread flooding in Ireland. Images of rivers bursting their banks and distraught families trying to save their valuable possessions have become more frequent during winter months.

Flood resilient construction uses methods and materials that reduce the impact from a flood, ensuring that structural integrity is maintained. The use of these materials and methods minimise the drying time and cleaning required following flooding and before reoccupation. Concrete is inherently water resilient and entirely suitable in a construction designed to be either waterproof, as required for water barriers, or water resilient. The extent to which the structure keeps out water depends on the specification of the concrete itself and its design details, corner junctions for example.

Dwellings constructed with concrete and masonry can easily be designed to be flood resilient. Despite the severe damage caused to property by flooding, the vast majority of buildings built using masonry block construction will not suffer structural damage in a flood. In many cases, people will suffer inconvenience and damage to carpets, curtains and furniture, but the concrete structure will dry out when the flooding has receded. Concrete and masonry do not absorb significant amounts of water and finishes that are water damaged can be stripped off and replaced. Indeed, by lowering the water: cement ratio, concrete can be made even more impervious to water or “water-resistant”. Masonry homes will not warp or rot following a flood.