Thursday 19 October 2017

Circus families thank locals for help after floodwaters forced evacuation of show-field

Entire circus - including 60 staff and their families and animals - had to be rescued

Video footage shows the circus tent swamped with water
Video footage shows the circus tent swamped with water

Ralph Riegel and Denise Calnan

An entire circus had to be rescued after the River Blackwater flooded its show field in Mallow, Cork.

Circus Vegas had been outside the north Cork town for a popular annual run of shows due to conclude yesterday.

However, circus staff and locals were taken aback by the speed with which the River Blackwater flooded fields adjacent to Cork Racecourse.

Luckily, racecourse officials familiar with the river were able to alert circus staff as to the impending flood.

A tractor had to be used to help guide a number of circus animals to dry ground after they were stranded in the rapidly flooding field.

Sixty staff and families had to evacuate the flooded field and set up temporary camp on the roadside.

“We would like to thank everyone for their concern and well wishes,” a Circus Vegas spokesman said.

“Everyone is fine and our ponies are doing great.”

“We would like to say ‘well done’ to all the staff and management for the great job they did in getting everyone to safety.”

Circus Vegas official Jon Paolozzi said staff had to work through the night to get heavy circus trailers out of the field and ensure valuable equipment was moved to high ground.

The main ‘Big Top’ tent couldn’t initially be removed from the field because flood waters were too high.

At one point, the flood waters were close to the top of fence barriers on parts of the course.

Circus Vegas is now hoping to move to Tralee for their next run of shows – and are praying for dry conditions.

Cork Co Council officials are now carefully monitoring the Rivers Bandon, Bridewell and Ilen.

The floods come as forecasters issued a national wind warning this morning as gusts of up to 110km/h are expected today.

Met Éireann issued the yellow wind warning after an unsettled few days of weather.

Motorists are warned to watch out for "wind-blown debris" and to be especially careful around pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Heavy, showery rain is still on the cards for today, with sleet or possible wet snow on higher ground in the north.

Speaking to RTE Radio One, a Met Éireann forecaster said the weather conditions should ease by later today.

"It's a windy morning down south and it will be blustery elsewhere for a few hours," he said.

"The afternoon will be bright and fresh, however, with highest temperatures of six to nine degrees."

The cold snap will return this evening with temperatures as low as freezing in some parts of the country.

"Monday will be a cool, fresh day with a number of showers in the west," the forecaster continued.

"Tuesday will begin as dry, but will become wet, and Wednesday is looking okay."

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