West Cork was one of the worst damaged regions in the country during storms over the weekend, and the county council is to seek emergency government funding to deal with washed- away roads and bridges.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said he had a provisional estimate from his engineers that repairs could cost €3m and this could rise as more reports arrive on his desk.
Mr Lucey made the comments as standing orders were suspended at yesterday’s council meeting in County Hall to discuss the fallout from up to 125mm of rain which deluged the region in 24 hours.
Mr Lucey said there were 16 locations on Sheep’s Head where significant damage had been caused and another 30 on the Beara Peninsula.
“At present it is my expectation that it was the worst affected area in the country,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor Noel O’Donovan, who had sought the suspension of standing orders, said “several roads were obliterated, sea walls washed away, bridges brought down, and culverts destroyed”.
He said in particular, serious damage was done in the Ahakista, Kilcrohane, and Barleycove areas and that the council could not fund the repairs needed from its own resources.
Flood damage on the road to Ahakista, Co Cork. Bev Cotton stands in the subsided road made impassable by floods. Picture: Miriam Cotton
“People were stranded and helicopters had to come in and take them out of places,” Mr O’Donovan said.
Independent councillor Michael Collins said he saw roads washed away in front of his eyes in Goleen and had spent hours helping locals trapped in their homes.
“Council workers put their lives at risk trying to save people and property. There was huge damage caused,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Andrias Moynihan said many roads in the Ballyvourney area were “torn to pieces,” and “several residents were trapped in their homes”.
He said the OPW needed to move faster to implement its flood defence plans for the village.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Creed said some premises in Ballingeary were flooded, but nowhere near as badly as previous occasions because €40,000 was recently spent clearing debris from the rivers there.
Saving the hay in the flooded fields neay Lombardstown, Co Cork. Picture: Des Barry
Independent councillor Declan Hurley said some householders living in the Dunmanway area were petrified because they had been flooded before and did not have house insurance.
He claimed “external agencies” were holding up dredging works on rivers which needed to be carried out to protect people and property.
“If we’re already facing this kind of damage going into the winter God knows what will happen. We need extra resources,” Mr Hurley said.
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said the type of heavy and prolonged rain the country was getting was becoming the norm and said that more needed to be done to ensure roadside drains were kept clear.
Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Murphy agreed with him.
“We spend millions of euro doing up roads, but we are not addressing drainage. We should be looking at our budget to put an emergency fund in place to address these eventualities,” Mr Murphy said.
Very bad flooding in Goleen village on Mizen peninsula on Friday evening. Picture: Michael Collins
Clonakilty-based Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes said recently repaired roads had been washed away and damage had been done to a number of cars.
“The road network in West Cork is already at crisis point. We need more funding from the Government,” Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll added.
His party colleague, Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony said flood relief schemes in Bandon and Skibbereen were being held up and as a result “people are very uneasy in their homes”.
Mayor of County Cork, Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea, said he had to travel to functions in West Cork last weekend and personally witnessed a lot of the damage.
Mr Lucey said his staff were still in the early stages of assessing the damage, but said the storm was at least on a par with damage levels caused by the February 2014 storm.
He said he wanted to compliment his outdoor staff for the work they had done over the weekend and would be seeking emergency funding from the Government.
Mr Lucey said some crews may have to be taken off planned road works to deal with storm damage repairs.
A woman pushes a buggy as a lorry passes on a narrow road which subsided outside Waterville, Co Kerry. Picture: Don MacMonagle
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved