Clean-up to centre on Cobh after 12,000 left stranded

After the great storm, the big clean up. As crews start to work around Co Cork, much of the fallout from Storm Ophelia will centre on the Cobh area.

High seas pounding the waterfront at Cobh, Co Cork, during Storm Ophelia. Picture: Denis Minihane

More than 12,000 people living in Great Island were left stranded for several hours yesterday as a number of trees fell on the Fota Rd.

With the cross-river ferry closed and train services suspended in the afternoon, there was no way in and out.

“If there was a major tragedy in Cobh during that time we’d have been in big trouble. I know there is an access road through Fota estate for emergency vehicles, but that roadway could also been blocked with fallen trees as well,” said Cllr Sinead Sheppard (FG).

She said the county council has to address the issue and that she would be raising it at its next meeting.

“A new road into Cobh has to be a priority. This can’t be ignored any more,” she said.

Cllr Cathal Rasmussen (Lab), who also lives in Cobh, said Fota Rd is bordered by a large number of huge trees.

“If we can’t get the money to build a new road into Cobh we may have to get those trees cut back. I know this was the worst storm in 50 years, but these storms are becoming more frequent,” he said.

“A lot of trees will have been weakened by the wind. It’s supposed to be bad again on Wednesday. More of the weakened ones could fall.”

Trees fell like ninepins all over Co Cork, causing serious disruption to drivers and power outages to thousands of homes.

A family had a lucky escape in Midleton around noon yesterday when a tree came down on their house on Dungourney Rd.

Around the same time, a gust of 156km/h was reported at Roches Point.

The roof was ripped off Passage West GAA Club, and part of the roof was blown off Kilcorney church, near Millstreet.

A tree fell on a car at Tower Rd, Blarney, but the occupant was not injured.

A crane blew down on the slip road off the N25 at Little Island, leading to one lane being blocked.

The westbound carraigeways of the N25 were also closed for a time between Midleton and Little Island due to falling trees.

In East Cork, falling trees downed powerlines at Ballynoe, near Conna.

Flying debris closed Pearse St, Kinsale. In the same area, fallen trees closed off roads at Ardbrack and Summercove.

Downed trees also blocked roads in the Carrigaline, Blarney, Glanmire, Rochestown, and Passage West areas.

Similar situations occurred in Charleville, Mallow, Doneraile, Rathcormac, and Whitegate.

County council crews were overwhelmed as scores of roads throughout the region were closed by fallen trees and powerlines.

The county council said that, for safety reasons, it did not allow its crews to work during the height of the storm.

Some crews and contractors started to clear debris once the winds had abated.

However, Tom Streitch, director of services for roads and transportation at Cork County Council, said the full clean-up would begin today. He said the first blocked roads to be prioritised will be those of highest traffic volume.

“The scale of it, even of what we know about, is huge, and I’m sure there’s some we don’t yet know about,” he said.

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