‘The streets turned into a river’ as coastal counties plead for funds

Waterford

‘The streets turned into a river’ as coastal counties plead for funds

Strengthening the south-east’s coastal defences is to be a priority following the latest bout of storm damage, which looks set to cost Waterford €9m.

A combination of high tides, heavy rainfall, and strong winds from the south meant more bad news for people along the embattled coastline yesterday morning, with Tramore again hit badly by flooding, while villages along the Suir estuary were also swamped.

Houses and businesses in places such as Passage East and Cheekpoint on the Waterford side of the estuary suffered from an early-morning high tide, as did the likes of Ballyhack and Arthurs-town on the Wexford side.

The quays in New Ross were flooded, along with the Ferrycarrig bridge outside the town leading to Kilkenny, while Waterford City’s quays were also hit, with knock-on effects for traffic and local business.

A number of houses in Waterford, particularly in the Poleberry area and around Manor St and Bath St, had to be evacuated early yesterday when the high tide led to rapidly rising river waters and severe damage to local residences.

Ted O’Meara from Poleberry said the residents, many of whom had to be taken from the area by boat, had never seen such flooding in their district. “The houses are completely destroyed,” he said.

“And we’re afraid it will be the same tomorrow because of the high tides. The high tide came in at about 8 o’clock this morning and there are sandbags outside the houses, but they didn’t stop the water. The tide is gone down now but they’re giving more of the same for tomorrow. It’s never been like this in history.”

In Passage East, the rising tide, backed by strong southerly winds, also meant unprecedented flooding yesterday morning, particularly along Blynd Quay and in Post Office Square.

“It came in very quickly,” resident Sandra Mason said. “At 7.30am it was fine, but by 8am some of the houses were absolutely destroyed.

“I’ve never, in all my life living in Passage, seen anything like it. There’s fences that have been washed away, houses destroyed. It’s horrific.”

The water receded later in the morning but severe damage was left behind.

“Our house insurance doesn’t cover us for flooding but it has never, as far as I can remember, been this bad,” said Ms Mason. “It was just a stream of water. The street turned into a river.”

— Conor Kane

Kerry

A clean-up operation was underway yesterday after several areas of the county were flooded by heavy rain and gale force winds.

A blue-flag beach area, Rossbeigh, which had already taken a severe battering in storms, has been further damaged.

Kerry County Council engineering staff were examining the latest damage at Rossbeigh and the road to the beach has again been covered with stones washed in over the weekend.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had more erosion and areas around the beach and sand dunes have become even more unstable. Hundreds of houses inland from the beach are now also prone to flooding,’’ Independent councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Many people are very worried and my phone has been hopping over the last few days.

“The road to the beach is again strewn with stones, which means no defences have been left. And, to make things worse, more bad weather is forecast.’

Mr Cahill said that, at this stage, the Office of Public Works and the Government have to get involved because the council does not have the necessary funds.

Up to 20 houses reached by a cliff road overlooking Rossbeigh Beach, on the Ring of Kerry, are now in danger of being cut off as the sea is undermining the road, he warned.

About 30 houses in Kilshannig on the Dingle Peninsula were cut off for a period after a section of road was washed away.

Houses in the Ballylongford area of north Kerry have again been flooded, to depth of more than 60cm while roads in many parts of the county were also flooded.

The coastal area from Ballyheigue to Ballylongford, including the Cashen and Ballybunion, has been seriously hit on an ongoing basis since Christmas.

Houses which had never previously been flooded have been ruined, according to Ballybunion-based Sinn Féin councillor Robert Beasley.

“This is a crisis that’s gone out of control and the Government and EU must intervene. The flooding is the worst people in north Kerry have seen,’’ he said.

Kerry County Council spokesman Padraig Corkery said the storms and high seas were having a severe impact on the county’s coastline, 60% of which is “soft’’ and therefore vulnerable to erosion.

Damage to coastal areas, roads, playgrounds, and footpaths was creating a “huge headache’’ for the council and a lot of repair work would have to be carried out, he said.

The council is making a €20m submission for Government funding to tackle erosion, but those people affected and the councillors believe far more money is needed, given the wide extent of the damage.

— Donal Hickey

Clare

Clare County Council has been forced to revise upwards its original cost estimate of storm damage after the county was again battered over the last few days.

While the authority continues to assess the scale of the damage caused by Storm Brigid, the council’s original €23.76m estimate could now rise to €30m or more.

The authority says most of the areas that had previously been affected by severe weather last month were again hit at the weekend, with further structural damage reported along Clare’s Atlantic coastline and at some locations along the Shannon estuary.

Remedial flood defence works carried out in recent weeks have been significantly undone in places, including at The Flaggy Shore, Seafield, and Kilbaha.

The council had spent €50,000 to install 1,000 1-tonne bags of rock and sand as an interim flood defence barrier near Quilty, Co Clare, where homes at Cloghauninchy were worst hit by January’s tidal surges.

Local homeowner John O’Connor said: “We thought we’d have some good news at the weekend after the flood defences were put in but instead we are living the nightmare again. I hoped to go to Ennis to get timber and skirting to start repairs but that’s gone out the window now. It’s really sickening.”

The promenade at Lahinch, which was badly hit on two occasions last month, has again been closed to the public after walkways and seawall suffered further damage at the weekend.

Several locations which were largely unaffected by January’s storms, including Kilkee, Spanish Point, and Moyasta, suffered significant infrastructural damage and flooding on Saturday.

Senior engineer Tom Tiernan warned: “Based on the information we have received from Met Éireann, our primary concern at this point is that localised flooding is likely to occur during the week as further heavy rain will lead to increases in already very high river levels.”

Council engineers are continuously monitoring river levels, and contingency arrangements in terms of additional pumping capacity and other flood alleviation measures are in place at flood-prone locations.”

— Pat Flynn

Children nearly swept out to sea

Two children had a lucky escape on the pier at Bullock Harbour, Dalkey, Co Dublin, yesterday. The children and their male guardian, believed to be their father, were on the pier, despite a prominent sign, below right, warning of big waves. Pictures: Aidan Tarbett

Children nearly swept out to sea

These are the terrifying moments when two young children came close to being swept out to sea as they played at the edge of a pier.

The unidentified children have no idea of the danger they are in while their male guardian, thought to be their father, stands inches away from a public notice warning of the peril of sudden large waves. At one point, the younger child is almost completely submerged when a wave breaches the pier, while the older child struggles to retain her balance.

Their lucky escape at Bullock Harbour in Dalkey, south Co Dublin, was witnessed at lunchtime by alarmed onlookers who shouted warnings that appeared to have gone unheard.

The two soaked youngsters were pulled to their feet and guided away from the edge by the man, who then brought them to safety.

High tide in Dublin yesterday at lunchtime came with warnings that strong winds and rain would make coastal areas hazardous. Sea levels often rise substantially in Bullock Harbour due to easterly gales, tides, or car ferries crossing Dublin Bay, but more extreme conditions last month left the entire pier under water.

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