Volunteer corps set to aid future response

Work is under way to establish a rapid response volunteer corps to help flood victims in Cork.

It came as traders united yesterday to help each other reopen for business.

The setting up of the volunteer corps follows an appeal by management at the Savoy nightclub on Tuesday night for volunteers to help to stricken businesses. Some of the Savoy’s staff were supported by over 20 volunteers who responded yesterday morning to the social media appeal issued at the height of Tuesday night’s flood — the second to hit the city in two days — and the third flood this year.

The small army of volunteers spent the morning in damaged shops with industrial cleaning equipment.

Brian Kennedy, general manager of the Savoy complex, said he felt compelled to help fellow traders.

“We figured we have a crew of people here, and industrial cleaning equipment, and we used social media to get the word out,” he said.

Retiree Edward Fahy, from Glanmire, was among those who responded.

“Some traders were reluctant to accept the help because they didn’t really know who we were. I think it could be better organised in future,” he said.

Valerie Sisk from Montenotte said: “I just thought ‘why not?’ I have a few hours before I go to work. If I was in the same situation, I’d appreciate the help.”

Another volunteer, John Paul O’Donovan, said: “When things like this happen, people do need help, they need volunteers, they need people like us to give them a hand.”

Cllr Chris O’Leary, chairman of the Cork Volunteer Centre, praised the initiative and said he will work with the Savoy to build a database of volunteers who can respond to future flood crises.

“We can link those who need help with existing organisations which can provide existing resources and expertise to deal with situations like this,” he said.

“There is a lot of help out there — we just need to channel it.”

He also urged the hundreds of flood tourists who descended on the city — some swam, cycled and canoed through the city as desperate business owners fought to save their livelihoods — to consider doing something useful.

“That’s the kind of thing traders don’t need,” he said.

“They need bodies, they need help... maybe help them save stock, or save their livelihoods,” he said.

Mick Cronin of Cronin’s Menswear on Oliver Plunkett Street said he was humbled by the offers of help he received from customers and the wider public. “The numbers coming in here to see if they could help has been incredible. I’ve had offers all morning. It’s fantastic to see,” he said.

Gina Duggan and Olivia Good, who work in the Cafe at Casey’s on Oliver Plunkett St, were among several businesses who helped their neighbours by dishing out free coffee, and sandwiches.

“My brother David decided to do it. ABC gave us the bread for free,” Gina said.

Church of Ireland Bishop Paul Colton said: “I spoke to lots of traders. Some were shocked, some were devastated. I saw a lot of tearful eyes... But it’s clear that while there is a lot of despair, there is resilience and resolve, people helping one another. That spirit is amazing.”

* You can register as a volunteer with the non-profit Cork Volunteer Centre on www.volunteercork.ie

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