After a night of drama across much of the country, some parts of East Cork and satellite towns close to Cork City were still under water yesterday.
Midleton was among the worst hit. One local councillor, Pat Buckley, said an estimated 50 businesses had fallen victim to flooding in Midleton and that at least 20 houses had also been affected, describing two or three of them as “potential write-offs”.
“I have never seen water like it before,” he said, adding that the “sheer volume of rain”, alongside rising tides and south-easterly winds, combined with devastating effect.
“The hotels have been brilliant, the gardaí, civil defence, friends and neighbours,” Cllr Buckley said.
“The biggest problem here is the recruitment embargo — they don’t have the staff to cover the area. Council staff have been on since noon [Tuesday] and haven’t had as much as a cup of tea.”
He said nobody could have foreseen the sheer level of flooding that hit the area, adding: “There were eels swimming the road, that will tell you.”
Five elderly people living in supported housing provided by Cork County Council had to be brought from their homes close to the Jameson Experience in the early hours of yesterday, and they were not alone.
Patrick Shields, the general manager at the Midleton Park Hotel, said 52 people from 14 different families spent most of the night at the hotel after they had been advised by emergency personnel to leave their homes in the nearby Woodlands estate.
He said people started arriving around midnight, trying to pay for rooms, before a decision was quickly taken to allow them to stay for free.
“They all checked out this morning,” Mr Shields said yesterday. They will be able to stay in their homes or with family tonight.”
It wasn’t the only case of a hotel in the region displaying generosity in the face of adversity. In nearby Castlemartyr, the five-star Castlemartyr Resort welcomed 25 people from seven families after their homes fell victim to the weather.
The hotel’s general manager, Cathal Lynch, said the families mostly came from the town or areas such as Mogeely and Midleton. He said one local family was “absolutely devastated” after flood waters swamped their property, and another had already heard insurance would not cover the damage caused to their home.
The unexpected guests had arrived between 2am and 6am yesterday and stayed in the hotel building. Mr Lynch said they were likely to stay until January 2 at least. After that, those in the most “dire circumstances” would be accommodated in lodges on the grounds.
He said he had spoken to one local man who had said the silt in the river was a likely factor in the high level of flooding and he had never seen flooding as bad in the area. The flooding meant the N25 road was waterlogged in three different locations, closing the road all day.
Glanmire near Cork City, the site of previous flood events, was again affected, although the damage to domestic properties was limited.
Some businesses in the Hazelwood shopping centre were flooded and the pitch and gym at Sarsfields GAA Club were also inundated.
On a nearby road, a woman and her children had to be rescued from a car late on Tuesday after it entered flood water. Locals in the Meadowbrook estate paid tribute to those who helped drain the area before the flood waters could access houses, including local TD Billy Kelleher, who used a slurry tank to help divert the rising waters. Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould also distributed sandbags to the residents.
In nearby Glounthane, homes and businesses had what one restaurateur described as a lucky escape after water began emerging from manhole covers, threatening the village.
Sandra Murphy of the Rising Tide restaurant said the business and the area in general had escaped flood damage primarily because the manholes popped at 7pm, meaning locals were aware of the dangers and took action. She also praised the local fire station personnel for helping to divert the water, but was critical of the response of Cork County Council.
Ms Murphy said the issue with the pipes and manholes in the area was an “ongoing issue” that had not been addressed and that the tides and heavy rain on Tuesday had simply exacerbated the problem. She also said she attempted to contact the local authority via its emergency assistance line but nobody responded until 11.45pm on Tuesday, by which time staff had managed to bail out much of the water that had entered the keg room and prep area.
“Had we not been on site the water would have been so much worse and we would have been wiped out by today,” she said, describing locals as being at “panic stations” as the water flowed down the hill in the village “like a river”.
One of the more striking images from the floods was of a bus shelter on Park Rd near Mallow almost entirely submerged. However, Cllr Melissa Mullane said flood barriers in Mallow had been a success and that while Park Rd was closed off, no business or homes were affected, although two Traveller families did have to move. However, she said flooding on approach roads to the town of Fermoy meant people were forced to use toll roads to get into and out of the town. The toll barriers were lifted for a time yesterday, up to 10pm.