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Saturday 30 August 2014

Storm Christine en route to Ireland

Published 04/01/2014 | 02:30

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The flooded car park overlooking Dublin Bay at Clontarf yesterday at High Tide.
Pic Steve Humphreys
3rd January 2014.
The flooded car park overlooking Dublin Bay at Clontarf yesterday at High Tide. Photo: Steve Humphreys
A cyclist braves the weather conditions on the coast road at Sandymount, yesterday.
Photo: Tony Gavin 4/1/2014
A cyclist braves the weather conditions on the coast road at Sandymount, yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin
A man runs from waves crashing onto the East pier in Howth, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 1, 2014. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A man runs from waves crashing onto the East pier in Howth, Dublin.

Brace yourselves, storm Christine is on her way.

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As most of the country continues to rebuild the damage from flooding, high tides and hail over the last 48 hours, there's more to come.

'Christine' is set to bring coastal waves of up to 70ft, while Met Eireann have issued a yellow alert for high winds, in particular across Leinster, Connacht, Munster, Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan.

TV3 weatherman Deric Hartigan first coined the name of the storm, while the national weather service warns of gale force winds and heavy rain tomorrow morning

Winds are expected to be light overnight, but gale-force winds are expected to arrive tomorrow morning along with rainy conditions, which are set to last until Wednesday.

High tides, whipped up by strong winds, caused extensive flooding in coastal towns and cities, including Galway and Cork. Several rivers flooded, including the Liffey in Dublin city centre, as water was forced back up river by high seas.

Roads were left under water or blocked by debris in many parts of the country, while sea defences were breached along the east and west coasts.

And there will be no let-up in the weather into next week.

Met Eireann says cold conditions early today will be replaced by strong gusts, rain in the west and south and high tides, which could result in yet more flooding.

But temperatures are to plummet tonight - and further flooding next week.

"Seas will probably go down a little bit because the winds will be slack but they'll pick up again Sunday and Monday so there's still a risk," said Met Eireann's Pat Clarke.

"There's an ongoing risk of flooding because the land is saturated and on top of that you have the coastal situation."

Not since 1998 has Ireland experienced such destructive storms, according to Mr Clarke, who recalled record gusts of around 170kph off Donegal when a storm swept across Ireland and the UK causing severe flooding and power outages.

Galway, Clare and Cork were the worst-hit areas yesterday.

A number of shops and restaurants in Galway city were under several feet of water and forced to close. As the properties are in a flood zone they have no insurance cover.

Niall McNeilis, who runs a jewellers at the Spanish Arch, said more than €10,000 worth of damage had been caused.

"I will have to put down a new wooden floor and all new electrics. Any profit that was made over the Christmas period has been lost now. We'll be closed for a few days and January is a tough month," he said.

A two-foot flood barrier erected at the shop door proved ineffective. "It's one step forward, two steps back. We did what we could to keep floods out but it's just freak weather conditions and we seem to be getting more and more of it," said Mr McNeilis, who is also a local Labour councillor.

Kumar's restaurant on Flood Street also suffered serious water damage. Several fridges, dishwashers and ice machines were destroyed by the water. Carpets and tablecloths have also been ruined.

"It was up to the edges of the tables. All the electrical items are gone. We have no insurance because we can't get any cover. This is going to cost us close to €10,000," said Sandeep Kumar.

A council spokesperson said the floodworks were not possible at the Spanish Arch, which is a historic part of the city.

Leisureland in Salthill closed as a result of flood damage. The pool and gym at the complex were badly damaged along with a state-of-the-art heating and power unit which was only installed last year. The building is expected to remain closed for a number of days. A wedding exhibition due to be held at the complex this weekend has been postponed to next Saturday.

Across Mayo, many roads were impassable for most of yesterday as council crews and fire brigades worked to deal with flood waters and debris.

The River Moy in Ballina burst its banks causing extensive flooding while part of a bridge at Rosmoney Pier in Westport collapsed.

The promenade in the tourist town of Lahinch in Co Clare was described as resembling a scene from an "Armageddon" movie after Atlantic waves crashed through the seawall.

The Lahinch Seaworld, 25 metres from the popular surf beach, was in the "eye of the storm". General manager Joe Garrihy estimated that the damage to the attraction "is between €70,000 to €100,000".

"It was like a scene from an Armageddon movie. Large boulders were thrown over the wall by the sea on to the car park. It was a one-in-50 year storm and the response from local people has been fantastic."

Clare County Council will spend in the region of €50,000 providing preliminary repairs to the promenade while it will cost at least €1m to fully repair the damage caused to the village.

Some families were evacuated from their seaside homes as windows and patio doors were blown in by 100-foot high waves.

In Doolin, the Irish Coast Guard is also counting the cost of the storms after the 150-year-old building they use for a base was extensively damaged and an adjacent prefab building was lifted off the ground and moved.

In Kerry, a woman from Limerick is recovering in hospital following a dramatic rescue when her car became submerged in the sea near Ballylongford after she lost her way in high floodwaters.

The water began to rise in the car and the woman had to jump on to the bonnet for safety until the emergency services arrived.

She was assessed and treated for shock and hypothermia before being transferred to Kerry General Hospital.

RESCUE

A pensioner fleeing his storm-lashed home on a remote Mayo peninsula had to be rescued by firemen after driving into deep tidal water on a low-lying coastal road. The man, named locally as Bill Heffron from Aughleam, Blacksod, on the Erris Peninsula, used a mobile phone to raise the alarm.

On Inishbofin, three cars parked near the pier were also washed out to sea. Boat users have been urged to keep an eye out for the cars.

Cork city and county suffered a second day of flooding as traders and politicians demanded emergency government action on a long-stalled €100m-plus flood defence plan.

While Cork avoided a repeat of Thursday night's tidal flooding, which left parts of the city centre impassable, flood warnings remain in place for high tides today and tomorrow.

Floods were again focused on low-lying city areas, including Morrissons Quay, Fr Matthew Quay, Sharman Crawford Street and Union Quay but did not reach the levels that caused chaos on Thursday night.

Floods also caused misery in county towns, including Midleton, Youghal, Clonakilty, Cobh, Kinsale, Carrigaline, Bandon, Fermoy and Mallow.

Dublin escaped the worst of the storm and business owners in Clontarf breathed a collective sigh of relief as rising floodwaters stopped metres from shopfronts.

There had been fears the 12.33pm high tide would cause serious flooding to the shops and homes on the Clontarf Road where the promenade walkway had flooded on Thursday for the first time since 2004.

The storm had disrupted power supplies across the country but ESB said all homes had their power restored by 6.30pm.

Meanwhile, the Road Safety Authority is urging motorists to remain cautious as Met Eireann warns of strong winds and the possibility of frost.

Caroline Crawford, Majella O'Sullivan, Sam Griffin, Ralph Riegel and Brian Byrne

Irish Independent

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