Cork on flood alert as heavy rainfall forecast
Low-lying parts of Cork are on flood alert due to the combination of torrential weekend rainfall, high tides and the swollen state of the River Lee.
However, officials are hopeful that, despite the risk, Cork, Bandon and Skibbereen will avoid a repeat of the disastrous floods of 2009, 2012 and 2014.
The greatest flood risk will occur over tomorrow and Monday when tides in Cork city will be at their highest.
Cork City Council is now hopeful that, if wind conditions are favourable and water management measures work, major flooding can be averted.
However, areas such as the Lee Fields, Carrigrohane Road, Morrison's Island, Sharman-Crawford Street and Fr Matthew Quay may experience flooding.
Officials admitted that, in the worst-case scenario, flooding may also occur on shopping streets including South Mall and Oliver Plunkett Street.
The Glow Christmas Festival will operate as normal in Cork, though the weather will be constantly monitored.
In Bandon, lower water levels in the River Bandon and River Bridewell allowed council repair crews to remove dangerous debris from around bridges.
Several large trees had been swept downstream and formed mini-dams around key bridges in the west Cork town.
The ESB confirmed that, due to the large build-up of water in the upper reaches of the Lee valley, it will have to maintain discharges from both the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid reservoirs. A water release rate of 180 tonnes per second is being maintained compared with 150 tonnes per second last week.
ESB official Tom Brown said the discharges were being carefully monitored.
"There is rain forecast for the weekend but we are not quite sure at this stage precisely what the impact of that is going to be - whether it is going to fall as heavily in the south-west, in the west or the north," he said.
One flood-hit Bandon trader warned that the situation simply cannot continue.
Michael Crowley (78) and his nephew, John, admitted that traders can only suffer so much.
Mr Crowley said traders cannot operate with the fear that every time it rains heavily the town could end up under flood waters.
"Something has to be done - it's as simple as that," he said.
John raced to help rescue the family business when the floods struck the River Bandon and River Bridewell.
"It is devastating, particularly happening so close to Christmas which many traders were hoping was going to be their best for years," he said.
"Everyone in Bandon has been hit to a varying degree. It is going to knock the town back a good bit.
"We had just hours to help ourselves because we just knew the flood was going to come in."
He added: "They can't seem to stop it. I just hope this doesn't become a more common issue in Ireland.
"As things stand it is very difficult to keep a business running when there is a constant threat of this happening.
"I just don't know where it is going to end."
In Bandon, roughly 90pc of traders no longer have flood insurance.
"A lot of the shops around the town don't have insurance anymore so it is a huge problem," John said.
"We came down at 10pm and the water wasn't too bad - it was maybe 20 feet from the shop.
"But it kept moving and pouring up the drains. At 11.30pm it was at the door and there was nothing we could do."