Despite the best efforts of the fire brigade, who pumped 5,000 gallons of water from the streets of the West Cork town, many premises ended up under a couple of feet of water, with sandbags providing little protection.
Paul Linehan of Linehan’s Menswear had the foresight to shift low-lying stock upstairs but still suffered considerable damage to timber shelving and flooring and a carpet in the suit section.
“There was four foot of water in the shop. Sandbags were supplied but they made no difference. Six years ago, it reached five foot and we were promised a flood relief scheme. It still hasn’t happened. We are furious. We have no insurance,” Mr Linehan said.
The retailer lost an afternoon’s trading yesterday and is currently trying to eliminate the damp smell. He said but for the goodwill of locals, who came out of pubs to help move stock on Saturday night when the flooding started, the damage would have been far worse.
Across the road in O’Leary and Others fashions, Frank O’Leary will be trading on concrete when he re-opens because flood waters destroyed €20,000 worth of timber flooring.
The insurance payout on foot of extensive flood damage in 2009 was €420,000. This time around, he has no insurance. He says nothing was done in the meantime.
“The flood relief scheme didn’t happen. Neither did the new sewerage scheme.”
Maria McLaughlin of Laughlin’s pharmacy in the town, as well as a veterinary and crop protection service, said the fire brigade, civil defence, Red Cross, Army and Gardaí were outstanding but were powerless.
“I had the stock moved three-and-a-half foot off the ground, and the water came to two-and-a-half, even though the fire brigade was literally pumping water all night. We’d have been devastated altogether only for them.”
Bandon Craft Centre had suffered minor flooding, despite having the floor raised since the last flood, Maria said. Across the way, the owner of the Curry House was ripping up flooring and taking out units.
“The really frustrating thing is all of this is solvable,” Maria said. “That’s what is really infuriating. But we’ve been waiting since 2009 for the flood relief scheme. I am blue in the face from ringing the Office of Public Works (OPW) to find out what the delay is,” she said.
Gillian Powell, whose home is on South Main St, as well as her Montessori School, was frantically trying to reach the parents of 25 children to tell them to bring their charges to the Scout Hall this morning while her own premises dries out.
Non-party councillor Alan Coleman said the flood was the third highest recorded in Bandon since 1960, peaking at 3.4 metres at 2.30am on Sunday. He said he was very angry, that the situation “could have been avoided if the OPW had proceeded with a tender published almost 20 months ago”. He said a flood relief scheme in Skibbereen had also been delayed due to “inaction at national level”.
In Bandon, the key action needed was to deepen the river bed, Mr Coleman said, along with a considerable stretch of the river, reaching halfway to Innishannon.
The chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey and the Mayor of the County, Cllr John Paul O’Shea yesterday acknowledged “the deep frustration and anger” of many communities of Cork County at the impact of flooding on business and family life.
Mr Lucey, who mucked in with locals in Bandon at the weekend to try and limit flooding damage, said the council had treated the progression of flood defences “as a priority across the county” working in tandem with the Office of Public Works, to advance flood relief schemes particularly for schemes in Bandon and Skibbereen.
He said in both cases, it was envisaged “subject to statutory, tendering and contracting processes all moving ahead unhindered”, that contractors could be on site in both locations by the middle of 2016.
He said the development of Flood Warning Systems had been beneficial in both towns “but completion of the flood defence works has and continues to be of paramount importance”. Mr Lucey said dredging of the river had taken place in Bandon for the past number of years, but was limited this year “as flow in the river was considerable at the time”. However he said even with dredging, so much rain fell in the past few days, it “would have made no significant difference”.
The €10 million Bandon flood relief scheme was first commissioned by the OPW, in partnership with Cork County Council, following a flood in 2009. The 2009 floods damaged or otherwise affected homes and 190 business properties in Bandon, resulting in approximately €140 million in insurance claims across County Cork. Construction of the scheme was delayed after a legal challenge at the pre-qualifying stage from a contractor who had not been placed on the list of contractors.
In January, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Simon Harris, said the OPW had made provision for the cost of implementing the Bandon scheme “over the years 2015-17”. However, he is now saying the scheme will be constructed “over the 2016-2018 period”.