Residents of several apartments and homes in Lahinch had to be taken to safety by fire personnel and gardaí after the worst storms ever witnessed in the west Clare resort town.
Dozens of mobile homes and caravans were left under several feet of water after the Atlantic surged several hundred metres inland.
A fishing boat was swept up onto the pier at Seafield near Quilty while the only access to the quay was flooded by seawater for the first time in living memory.
Members of the Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard evacuated several homes with personnel carrying elderly people through waist-deep water to safety.
Further storm force winds and several tidal surges were expected overnight.
The occupants of as many as 20 homes in the Seafield area have been advised to leave their homes until later today.
Local fishermen scrambled to save their vessels with some using a tractor to cross the perilously flooded road to transport a water pump to try and save their boat.
The worst of the storms was felt in Lahinch, where quarter-ton wall cappings were tossed more than 50m across the main promenade carpark. Signs buckled under the pressure of the storm surge, while large sections of the area collapsed.
The first alarm was raised at around 5.30am when residents reported their properties being flooded by the storm surges. Several homes in Saddle Lane had to be evacuated.
Gardaí also asked fire personnel to use their truck’s siren to alert home owners to the flooding.
The main Lahinch-Liscannor road was flooded as sea water reached up to 500m inland in places.
The promenade carpark, which is home to several surf schools, was under 1.5m of water. Two vans, owned by surf school operators, were submerged.
One couple had a lucky escape when twin patio doors were blown in on top of them as they tried to clear water out of their apartment.
Wishing to be named as Ollie and Alison, Ollie said: “We could hear the waves crashing up against the building and water started leaking in so we got up to get some pots and pans to start cleaning up.
“I was standing in the kitchen when I heard a loud smash and the double patio door just disintegrated sending glass everywhere. The couch just flew past me. It was incredible but at least no one was hurt.”
Local businessman Anton O’Looney described the scene as being like Armageddon.
In nearby Liscannor, a gap was smashed into the centuries-old pier, while a 5m section of the pier wall was washed into the sea.