Businesses commence clean-up as coastal flooding lashes West Cork

It was a sense of deja-vu for frustrated businesses in West Cork this morning.
Businesses commence clean-up as coastal flooding lashes West Cork

Emergency services dealing with flooding in Youghal this morning. Picture: Cork Safety Alerts/Twitter

The West Cork coast was lashed by coastal surges but damage to property was not as severe as many had feared as roads were swamped in the morning tide.

The impact of strong winds, heavy rainfall and a coastal surge meant locations across the county from Bantry to Youghal experienced flooding, with Bantry the worst hit in terms of buildings affected.

Cork County Council said 15 properties had been hit in the West Cork town by the early morning waters which rapidly encroached over walls and barriers shortly after 7am.

It was the second time in just a few months that the town had been hit, following flooding caused by severe rainfall in August.

Flooding in Bantry's main square this morning. Picture: Twitter/@dzjamkokarlis
Flooding in Bantry's main square this morning. Picture: Twitter/@dzjamkokarlis

This time around the impact was not as severe. 

George Voronin, executive head chef at O'Connor's Seafood described the impact as "not too bad" and added: "It's much better than last time."

Following a quick clean-up operation the business was able to re-open for takeaway while on Wolfe Tone Square Drinagh DIY manager Michael Coughlan said for many it had been a lucky escape.

"It was just a clean-up job," he said as the store re-opened at 11.30am.

He said the last such coastal flood was almost five years ago, while the damage caused by downpours in the summer had been more pronounced.

"The river burst its banks [that time]," he said. "It was worse that time with the debris that came with it. At least it was clean water [this time]."

Mr Coughlan also said with global warming "we are going to see this more often" and that business owners didn't need further difficulties with Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions looming.

Staff at the Maritime Hotel said the facility had escaped any water coming into the property but that many people had not seen tidal waters at that level before.

The chairman of Bantry's Business Association, Diarmuid Murphy, said the atmosphere in the West Cork town is one of frustration.

"It feels like same old, same old, let's just get 2020 out of the way," Mr Murphy said.

"It wasn't as bad for some of the businesses this time, because it wasn't rainwater, it was more a tidal surge and a combination of rainwater that came last night, and there's very strong winds outside now, it's quite fresh."

Mr Murphy says parts of the square flooded that have never flooded before. "A lot of businesses who had been hit the first time got hit again."

He said he went down to Bantry's wool shop, Bantry Yarns, and the owner was in a state of shock, shaking her head in disbelief that this has happened again. 

"Even with the weather warnings, you just can't stop it."

Mr Murphy says the flood relief works need to be completed as a matter of urgency.

The culverts are one problem, they won't be done till 2022 or 2023, and the flood relief is scheduled for 2027. We will be like Venice by then if this keeps going.

Roads were also flooded in Castletownbere, Kinsale and up into Carrigaline and into east Cork in Whitegate, Aghada and Youghal.

One road was flooded for a time at the lagoon in Rosscarbery, as was the Clonakilty to Ring road, while the road from Timoleague to Courtmacsherry was badly flooded for a time, although no properties in either village were damaged.

Billy Adams, owner of the Courtmacsherry Hotel, said it was only the fourth time he had seen tidal waters at that level.

Now 39, he has lived in the area his whole life and said erosion was likely in some beach spots as a result of the tidal surges.

Cork County Council’s Fire Service and roads crews attended a number of locations that were flooded.

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