There was heartbreak for many businesses around Midleton after torrential thunderstorms caused flash flooding for the second summer in a row.
The inches of rain that landed on the east Cork town around midnight on Wednesday were too much for Michael Coakley to get the barriers up in time across his clothing shop on Main St.
He was throwing out carpet and other flooring yesterday in the warm morning sunshine that made it hard to believe the street was under inches of water a few hours earlier.
“The phone lines are still down so we can’t do any card transactions, we’re effectively out of business for two days to get things right.
“We had a power outage as well, but luckily there was no stock damaged, it was all off the floor after last year’s flood,” he said.
Although in business here since 1965, he said the first flood to hit his shop was in 1986.
But, he said, everything was fine until the drains were replaced again with much narrower pipes below the street around six years ago.
“There’s no reason a drainage system in a town like this shouldn’t be able to take the weather, but it’s only since we had this system in place that we’ve had flooding again,” he said.
Across the road, Martina Kirby, manager of the Cork DAWG (Dog Action Welfare Group) charity shop was still mopping the floor and bagging up donated clothes, books, and other items no longer of use for sale.
“It’s heartbreaking because our shelter in Macroom depends on what we make here and in our other shops for funding.
“We’ll be closed today and maybe tomorrow, normally our busiest days of the week,” said Martina, as she and fellow volunteer Catherine De Jong tried to soak up the remaining water with old newspapers.
“As soon as I heard the rain last night, I knew what to expect when I came down in the morning after what happened last year.
“There was still about four or five inches of water inside the door when I came in, and about eight inches in the store room,” she said.
Cork County Council said Wednesday’s flooding was caused by a torrential downpour over a very localised area around Midleton, rather than river or coastal flooding which are being considered in the OPW’s Catchment Flood Risk Management Scheme for the south-west.
“The council identified that the urban drainage system worked to capacity, but just could not cope with the intensity of the rainfall that occurred,” said a spokesperson.
After a similar event in June of last year, he said, changes were made to increase the number of monitoring points for inspection and cleaning of drains.
It is understood the drains had been cleared just days earlier.
Met Éireann’s weather stations in Cork did not record unusually high rainfall, but one voluntary station a few miles from Midleton recorded 62.5mm of rain in the 24 hours to 10am yesterday, most of it likely to have fallen during a thunder and lightning storm.
Some evidence of the downpour was still clear as council staff worked into the afternoon filling large trailers with big stones, and mud washed down hills at Ballyedmond, Broomfield, and other roads outside Midleton, and rain washed away parts of ditches.
Speaking in Midleton, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said councils need to constantly assess how they are equipped to deal with flooding situations, but it appeared this event was down to an enormous amount of water falling in a very short period.
“We need to see first if everything is being done to minimise the effect of things like this, it’s up to local authorities then to apply to the OPW before it’s appropriate for the State to intervene,” he said.
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