Carrignavar carries on through adversity in aftermath of Ophelia

Many rural villages in Co Cork continue to suffer in the aftermath of Storm Ophelia, with some, such as Carrignavar, still without power, water, phones, and internet connection, and hampered by fallen trees blocking roads.

While villagers pull together, the effects are being felt mainly by the isolated elderly and the sick, while teenagers feel they’ve been thrown back into the Stone Age because they can’t use their smartphones.

The village, just 13km from Cork City, suffered a power outage at 11.30am last Monday — and those without generators were still in the dark yesterday evening.

The only shop, Drummonds, remained open despite no power of any sort. Shop assistant Edwina Griffin said there’d been a run on bottled water, bread, tea bags, and cigarettes.

Edwina said that without internet access in her own home, her children “were completely lost”.

Her colleague, Susan Keating, said she, her husband, and 19-year-old daughter were travelling to her brother-in-law’s house to shower. “In fairness, I suppose there are a lot of people worse off than us,” she said.

In the pharmacy, the O’Callaghan sisters were doing their best to help people, even trusting them to pay for medicines later as they couldn’t process credit card transactions.

Orla, the pharmacist, said while they had installed a generator, they didn’t have water and therefore couldn’t make up children’s antibiotics.

“We couldn’t receive fax notices from hospitals for medicine prescribed for patients who were being discharged,” she said.

“We can’t give out prescription receipts and we don’t have internet access so we can’t order drugs.”

Orders they had made at the weekend didn’t arrive because the delivery drivers couldn’t get through blocked roads.

Her sister, Niamh, said they knew they could trust people to pay up later.

“Anyway, you can’t leave people without their medicines,” she said.

Niamh was in the pharmacy when the storm struck, reluctantly closing at 12.30pm to drive to her home in nearby Whitechurch.

“It was a terrible drive home. The car was swerving all over the place because of the wind,” she said.

A notice at Miriam’s Hair & Beauty Salon said it was closed due to lack of power and water. However, the proprietor said she was willing to travel to people’s homes if they had both.

Pictures: David Keane

Sacred Heart College principal Colm Ó Corcora didn’t know when his 550 pupils would be able to return to classes. The roof was blown off one block, while winds blew in windows, took out a generator, and felled 12 large trees on the grounds.

Contractors were making the roof safe yesterday and cleaning up other debris, but unless electricity is restored he won’t reopen classes.

He said pupils’ safety was paramount and he would also be getting a specialist to check the standing trees.

School caretaker Paddy Power, who helped build the college in 1964, recalled a roof had blown off it in 1971, but maintained that this storm was the worst he’d ever seen.

Surveying the damage he said: “ I don’t rightly know when the pupils will be able to come back.”

Amid the gloom there was some merriment in the local national school, where most of the community gathered in the afternoon to celebrate the retirement of principal Dermot O’Driscoll after 23 years in the job.

Teachers said the only concern they had about continuing classes was if the water tank ran out and the electricity hadn’t returned in the meantime, which would mean water couldn’t be pumped back into it.

Those attending the principal’s retirement party came armed with cakes, sausage rolls, and sandwiches. They are a resilient bunch in Carrignavar.

Normality returns, albeit slowly

- Sean O’Riordan  

Emergency crews from the ESB, Irish Water, telecom companies and the county council are beginning to restore some normality to Co Cork, even though there’s still a lot left to do.

The tiny village of Glenville, like other rural communities, began to emerge from the destruction wrought by Storm Ophelia yesterday afternoon as water and power came back.

Barry Kennedy, who owns Kades Kounty bar, was overseeing his usual Wednesday “afternoon tea dance” with a crowd somewhat reduced
because of the weather.

“Eldery people are afraid to travel out for it. A lot of the roads around here are still blocked,” he said. However, he’d a generator and a lot of people came for hot meals in the pub in recent days.

Council workers Jim Byrne and Michael Stapleton were delivering bottled water to Glenville and adjoining villages. “We started at 8.30am visiting as many houses as we could. People are very grateful,” Jim said.

Council crews also ferried in water tankers and bottled water to Ballydehob, Youghal, Cobh, Donoughmore, Belgooly, Carrignavar and Grenagh.

Irish Water estimates about 12,000 of its customers in the county still remain without a supply.

The utility is bringing in generators to get pumping stations working where the ESB supply remains off.

In the past 24 hours it’s restored supplies in a large number of areas in Cork, including Cobh, Leap, Cloyne, Kealkill and Doneraile.

While ESB Networks reported further progress last night, thousands of households and business still remain without power in the South-West region. The company said its customers can get updates at 1850 278 278.

Meanwhile, the county council and contractors continue to clear trees which have blocked roads.

A council spokeswoman said by last night only one regional road was closed. She said the main Midleton-Dungourney road (R579) is still being cleared of fallen trees and downed powerlines.

She said there are still a “significant amount” of rural roads which haven’t been cleared, but said the council is confident its 300-strong team of workers, aided by 60 contractors and over 100 JCBs and tractors, would have a number of them cleared by last night.

However, she warned that several roads will remain closed for the next few days as the council will need the aid of ESB technicians to untangle powerlines from the fallen trees and that the ESB is already at full-stretch.

“At the council’s request, the Civil Defence are on standby to assist with the distribution of water if required,” the spokeswoman said.

Some council offices are closed as they don’t have electricity. They are also being impeded from responding to calls as mobile phone networks remain down, especially in rural areas. The council said if people can’t get through to their local area office they should contact the 24/7 manned incident line at
021 4800048.

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