'It's very disheartening' say Fermoy business owners hit by flooding

After millions of euro was spent on its flood defences, nobody expected more damage in the North Cork town
'It's very disheartening' say Fermoy business owners hit by flooding

Antonio Talossi throwing out a bucket of floodwater from his restaurant on Brian Boru Square Fermoy. Picture: Dan Linehan

Mopping up after flooding in Fermoy has been a common occurrence over many years, but after millions of euro was spent on its flood defences, nobody expected more damage in the North Cork town.

Richie Flynn, who has leased the Avondhu Bar since 2008, previously endured two major floods, 2015 being the last until Wednesday's deluge.

It, he said, caused damage to new furniture recently purchased, beer fridges, glass washers and ice-making machines. He also suspects raw sewage seeped into the premises.

“We're all very happy the barriers have worked, but I didn't think this could happen and don't need it on top of the other pressures on my business right now. Things were hard enough. It's very disheartening,” he said.

 Cllr Deirdre O'Brien and Cllr Frank O'Flynn with publican Richie Flynn of the Avondhu Bar, whose premises was damaged by floodwater on Brian Boru Square. Picture: Dan Linehan

Cllr Deirdre O'Brien and Cllr Frank O'Flynn with publican Richie Flynn of the Avondhu Bar, whose premises was damaged by floodwater on Brian Boru Square. Picture: Dan Linehan

Next door, Antonio Talossi was mopping up his fast-food outlet, like so many times before.

He's owned the Whimpy takeaway since 1984 and has lost count of the number of times it has been submerged by water. He's seen flood waters reach 4ft-5ft high in the past, although this time wasn't as severe.

His daughter, Isabella, who lives in the apartment upstairs, contacted him at 6am on Wednesday morning.

“She sent me a video showing the water inside,” he said. “I wasn't expecting this to happen again, especially after the flood works were completed,” he said.

Zekjko Iskra was scooping out water from the ground floor entrance to the apartment above the Avondhu Bar, which he shares with his wife and two sons. He discovered the flooding at about 5am.

A vape shop close by was also damaged, but council workers were able to sandbag an auctioneer's premises as the waters rose, preventing it from flooding.

Auctioneer Lorraine Spillane didn't find out about it until 11.30am and arrived a short time later. “I was expecting the worst, but fortunately it's grand,” she said.

 A Fermoy town council sign partly submerged in the floodwater of the River Blackwater. Picture: Dan Linehan

A Fermoy town council sign partly submerged in the floodwater of the River Blackwater. Picture: Dan Linehan

Sean Lomasney, owner of nearby Abbeyville House B&B, saw the water coming up through drains at 4.40am and contacted gardaí.

They mounted checkpoints on the approach roads to the town, advising motorists they couldn't cross the bridge. It was reopened shortly before lunchtime on Wednesday.

Fianna Fáil councillors Frank O'Flynn and Deirdre O'Brien said they'd heard the issue was caused by the sensor not activating emergency pumps.

It's terribly disappointing to see premises flooded after the flood barriers proved a success. It's soul-destroying for the owners. Investigations must be carried out as why a contingency plan wasn't put in place to deal with a telecommunications network failure. 

"Every measure must be taken to prevent this from happening again,” Ms O'Brien said.

Mr O'Flynn said the OPW and council would have to carry out a thorough investigation.

"There are a number of property owners who still don't have flood cover. Businesses now hit will have to be compensated by someone for the damage,” he said.

 The flood barriers erected on Thomas Kent Bridge over the Blackwater blocking off flooding to Brian Boru Square.

The flood barriers erected on Thomas Kent Bridge over the Blackwater blocking off flooding to Brian Boru Square.

Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy maintained some agreement had to be entered into between the council and Direct Route – which operates the tolled section of the motorway nearby – to allow free access to it when people have to travel on it from one side of the town to the other.

He said serious delays were experienced as motorists tried to get through the automated toll booth barriers at Corrin, to the south of the town, because they'd panicked and forgotten to bring cash or credit cards.

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