Country braces for deluge after freak flood

Ireland is bracing for flash floods after Met Éireann issued localised flood alerts and small craft warnings last night.

Country braces for deluge after freak flood

It came as East Cork mopped up after a freak “monster-rain” downpour on Tuesday night.

Business owners in Midleton, Castlemartyr, and Youghal were counting the cost yesterday of a cloud-burst deluge which dumped a day’s worth of rain on the region in just over an hour on Tuesday.

The flood caused hundreds of thousands of euro-worth of damage.

Businesses at the eastern end of Midleton town’s main street were worst affected.

The street was sealed off, several homes in Beechwood Estate evacuated, and the downpour was so intense that some motorists were forced to abandon their cars on the N25.

“This was the worst ever,” said Killian McGrath, who runs The Print Factory. “We escaped the worst of it, but I’ve never seen it so bad.”

Met Éireann meteorologist Vincent O’Shea said radar imagery showed a convective cloud cell, about three to four miles in diameter, spring up “out of nowhere” over the Midleton area at around 6pm.

He said this type of cloud holds gigantic amounts of water vapour which can be released in a small area in a short period.

“Getting 15mms in a day would be considered a day of heavy rain. But this area got between 10mm-15mm of rain in an hour,” he said.

“It was extremely localised and died out over that area again. It was just pure fluke that it occurred in that area.”

Midleton-based optician Aisling O’Connor, whose premises was flooded for the third time in 14 years, said people are angry that the town’s drainage system couldn’t cope.

“I was flooded six months after I opened the business, again in 2007, but this is probably the worst,” she said. “They upgraded the drainage system and put in a new pumping system about two years so we expected it wouldn’t happen again.”

County engineer Noel O’Keeffe said it would have been impossible to engineer a solution to cope with Tuesday’s downpour.

“The council has spent €6m upgrading the town’s drainage and sewage system over the four years,” he said.

“But you couldn’t legislate for the rainfall that fell on Monday.

“You would need pipes the size of buses to cope with that level of rainfall.”

He said the intensity of the rain washed dirt and gravel, and toppled wheelie bins and washed their contents into the drains, causing them to back up.

He said Cork County Council has now asked the OPW to engage consultants to examine the flood event in detail. It will take several weeks for the report to be compiled.

Meanwhile, Met Éireann has warned of widespread frontal rain across the country over the next 48 hours, with 40mm-60mm of rain forecast today, and a further 30mm forecast for tomorrow.

It has also issued a small craft warning with easterly winds expected to increase from Force 6 or higher on coasts from Carnsore Point to Roche’s Point to Valentia.

It is liaising with local authorities and has warned of localised flooding, with Munster and west Connacht most at risk.

The Coast Guard has also warned the public to be careful.

Flooded for third time

* Optician Aisling O’Connor was supposed to spend yesterday consulting with clients.

Instead, she donned Wellington boots and gloves and spent the day pulling up sodden carpets and removing water-damaged units, which were installed just seven weeks ago.

“We’re absolutely devastated,” she said, as her brother, Gavin, and staff, Pat O’Leary and Claire Collins, cleared out ruined stock.

“I’m in business here 14 years and this is the third time I’ve been flooded.

“But this is probably the worst. I’ve lost stock, patient files and equipment.

“I had a full book of patients that I was supposed to see today. But I’ve had to cancel everything.

“I feel incredibly lucky that my business is surviving the recession, but this flood has made it extra difficult.

“I just don’t know when we can open again.

“But the support has been incredible. The community is coming together to help. Everyone is really angry that the drainage system wasn’t able to cope.”

No option but to start over

* Business partners Eleanor Dunlea and Maura Horgan opened their children’s clothes shop in Roxboro Mewslast September.

But up to four feet of water containing raw sewage swept into their Lollipops Kids shop on Tuesday night.

The damage will cost them thousands of euro, they said as they mopped up yesterday.

“A lot of people said don’t bother starting a business in the middle of a recession,” Maura said.

“But we said we’d give it a go. We invested our own money because we got no finance or help from the banks.

“We were doing fine, and now here we are, eight months later, and the business is totally destroyed, wiped out.”

As water squelched out of the shop carpet, Eleanor said they have no option but to rebuild the business.

“Devastation isn’t the word for it... the shop is totally ruined,” she said.

“We have to get going again because we have our own money invested in it.

“It’s hard enough these days but I hope we can come back.”

Mayo quake

* An underwater earthquake off the west coast rocked homes in Co Mayo yesterday.

The 4.0 magnitude quake, which was pinpointed about 100km off Belmullet, struck at 7.58am and was the largest recorded here in almost 20 years.

Data from the British Geographical Survey showed the epicentre was about three kilometres below the Atlantic Ocean seabed.

However, it was not big enough to produce high waves.

British Geological Survey Seismologist David Galloway said it would have been felt in counties Mayo, Galway and Sligo.

“We have been getting reports of the windows rattling, that the shaking felt like a lorry or some vehicle smashing into the back of the house, which is typical of the felt reports of earthquakes,” he said.

“One report described it as like a steamroller going down the road.”

The seismic waves it generated were recorded by the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN), at its stations in Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Wexford and Kerry.

INSN director Thomas Blake said there was no previous history of seismic events in this area of seabed hundreds of milesfrom a fault line in a tectonic plate which is moving away from America.

The largest earthquake felt in Ireland occurred on July 19, 1984.

It registered a magnitude of 5.4 and occurred off the coast of Wales and caused minor structural damage to property on the east coast.

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