‘Under 4ft of water in 10 minutes’

Caroline Kelleher cleans up in O'Donovan's Off Licence in Blackpool, Cork

Bill Dunlea has seen more than his fair share of floods swamp Blackpool — but he has never seen the village flood as fast as it did on Thursday night.

“This flood was completely different to the last one,” he said yesterday morning after he and two staff spent the night clearing flood waters from his Coffee Pot outlet.

“The place was under four feet of water in 10 minutes. The cause was totally different to the flash flood last June.”

While the last flood was caused by a blocked trash- screen in the culvert, the finger of blame for this flood has been pointed squarely at the decision to dump tonnes of rock armour in the river, near Orchard Court.

It was placed on the riverbed over a month ago to support a digger involved in strengthening foundations on a pedestrian bridge which were undermined in last June’s flood. But when the work was done, the rocks were left in the river.

Locals said this reduced the river’s capacity to cope with Thursday’s rainfall.

Mr Dunlea said he warned City Hall four weeks ago that this would cause a problem, but he got no response.

But the size of the culverts — four metres in Blackpool village as opposed to eight metres around the Heineken brewery closer to the city — must also be considered, locals said.

There appeared to be an admission by local OPW officials yesterday that the Blackpool culverts, installed nine years ago at a cost of €3.5m, are now too small.

Jer Buckley, who runs the village’s Centra outlet and who helped warn other local traders about Thursday’s flood, said the situation was a disgrace.

“We’re not being listened to. We got a new culvert in 2001 at a cost of €3.5m. But we got two four-metre culverts. And downstream, closer to the river, Murphy’s Brewery got no flooding. And it has an eight-metre culvert,” he said.

“Our culvert has failed twice, and we’re expected to wait another two years until the OPW do a report on it, and then they’re going to wait another few years to decide what to do about it. They should front-load funding to get the culvert sorted out.”

City council workers were helping with the clean-up operation yesterday, and they removed the trash screen from the culvert at Orchard Court.

The community council is meeting this morning to discuss how best to pressure politicians for a resolution. They are due to meet city manager Tim Lucey next Wednesday, and are hoping to meet flood minister, Brian Hayes, too.

Mr Dunlea said they are determined to get results.

Tweet alert

- Stephen Spillane (@spiller2) watched from the window of his first-storey apartment in the village centre, as the flood waters raced down the main street.

He tweeted: “Blackpool flooded again. Water nearly up to the door, hopefully wont get that far!”

He posted minutes later this was the second flood he witnessed since moving to the area just over a year ago.

As the waters rose, he kept people updated, tweeting pictures from his living room.

Some of his images were picked up by various news outlets and flashed around the world.

Property damage was not as extensive as last June’s incident because several business owners had installed flood barriers.

But several business owners hadn’t got the barriers in place because no flood alert was issued.

As the flood waters receded, Stephen captured the mood of most residents and business owners in the area with a tweet wondering why no flood warning was issued.

Yesterday morning, he tweeted as the mop-up operation continued, and told his followers he doesn’t normally just tweet about the weather.

Cork City Civil Defence also posted a video taken at the height of the flood.

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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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