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In my senior years, it is somewhat frightening to find that the “City by the Lee” continues to be devastated during spring tides by floods, not withstanding the intervening years of advances in technology and a ravaging tiger in funding availability.
There can be no blame game however, given that in 2009 we had real live warnings when even the walls along the banks of our Lee’s north channel succumbed to the speed of water down stream encouraged by the overflow of Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra Reservoir.
Such floods are no new phenomena to our fair city — when as youths we observed many being assisted by the local fire service staff, the Army and its reserves (LDF & LSF as well as later FCA), prior to the arrival of Civil Defence Units, all rendering the best of service, no matter the weather, or time of day or night.
I recall on one Sunday afternoon, somewhere between Autumn 1956 to Summer 1958 while walking with my then intended, and now wife of fifty-five years plus, I found myself being marshalled to assist her family business in lifting all their products off the floor above counter level to avoid the flood, there being a surge in the river following the release of the dam water coinciding with high tide.
Oh, how nothing has changed — notwithstanding that we were led to believe that the provision of the new drainage facility would, (in the words of some public servants of the time), bring about a great reduction, (and maybe elimination), of flooding through our city.
In those earlier years, I also recall that, whereas Cork Harbour Commissioners, (now Cork Port Authority), regularly dredged the river from Clontarf and Brian Boru Bridges eastwards and downstream to the inner harbour mouth, Cork Corporation, (now Cork City Council), kept a regular check on the cleanliness of the river, cleaning it as was necessary for two reasons (a) appearance and odour and (b) to help increase capacity of river during flood times by removing all silt.
These are commonsense options which once removed from the protocol and good management of both governing bodies, certainly gave the river an invitation to return to our city streets.
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