Tuesday 25 October 2016

Storm Frank’s fury brings the country to its knees

Wayne O'Connor, Ralph Rigel, Greg Harkin and Adam Cullen

Published 31/12/2015 | 02:30

Floodwaters burst through the doors of buildings in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny
Floodwaters burst through the doors of buildings in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny
A member of the fire service takes a short break as flooding continues in Bandon, Co. Cork, following storm Frank. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The River Nore in flood at Inistioge Co. Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Ninety five year old Billy Ashe and his daughter Annette with their pet Teddy Licious being rescued by the Civil Defence during the floods in Inistiogue Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore
The army were helping to distribute sand bags in Thomastown Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore
The roof of an apartment in Aras Na Cluaine which came off due to a strong breeze in Clondalkin, Dublin. Photo: Collins
Flooding in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford after the River Slaney burst its banks and flowed over the bridge. Photo: Mary Browne
Firemen pump flood water out of SuperValu in Graiguenamanagh Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Anita Mundow at her mother Ann Connolly’s flooded home at Ballinastague near Kinvara, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes
Publican Donal and son Damien Crowley survey the damage to their beer garden in Bandon, Co Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Right, Dr Pat Murphy with his wife Louise and children Kate, Stephen and Richard outside their flooded home on Oliver Plunkett Street in the town. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney
Minister Alan Kelly TD and Cllr. Kevin "Boxer" Moran (2nd L) in The Strand, Athlone, where they viewed the recent flooding. Photo: Jamers Flynn/APX

Flood chaos swept the country as the aftermath of Storm Frank left communities under water amid fallen trees and landslides.

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Emergency services said it was a miracle that nobody had been killed amid the devastation wreaked by the latest winter storm.

More than 14,000 homes and businesses were hit by power cuts as the ESB struggled to cope with the wind and rain.

However, the ESB said it had restored power to more than 130,000 homes since Sunday.

This morning, there are approximately 3,000 premises without power - and some of these are likely to remain without power for a number of days due to flood waters and difficulties accessing the premises. Among the worst affected areas are Macroom and Fermoy, Brittas Bay and Arklow.

Travel was massively affected, with countless road closures and cancelled flights and trains.

Meanwhile, communities rallied together to battle the water enemy, which experts say will continue to rise.

The west coast felt the brunt of Storm Frank but the east also fared badly, with transport across Enniscorthy, Co Wexford only possible by boat.

Met Éireann recorded rainfall of more than 80mm in parts of the country, with winds of 120kmh recorded in coastal areas.

Forecaster Ger Fleming said the country had suffered a very severe 36 hours.

"In Millstreet in west Cork, we had a figure of 76.9mm and in Carrick-on-Suir, the junction of Waterford, Kilkenny and Tipperary, we had a figure of 81.1mm," he said.

"These are significant amounts of rain, particularly in what has already been a very wet month."

And there is no immediate let up.

Met Eireann have issued a Yellow Wind Warning for Wicklow, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Waterford today. Strong and gusty winds expected, with mean speeds between 50 and 65 km/h. These winds will gust 95 to 110 km/h at times.

The repair bill for the third Atlantic storm to hit Ireland in recent weeks is now expected to run to millions of euro, with property damage being matched by severe disruption.

Cork bore the worst of the damage in the south, with the Defence Forces deployed in Midleton to evacuate a housing estate and 14 families after a river had broken its banks.

They were taken to a hotel as fire brigade and council staff battled to control the flooding along Mill Road, Main Street and Distillery Road.

Massive damage was also inflicted on Glanmire and Bandon, with the west Cork town witnessing its worst flooding since the catastrophic deluge of 2009.

Some Bandon traders warned that they may not now be able to sustain the cost of a second flood in three weeks and their businesses may not survive into the New Year.

Don O'Sullivan, owner of the Munster Arms Hotel owner, said the second flood in three weeks had left the town "absolutely devastated".

The River Lee and the River Blackwater both broke their banks after an estimated 60mm of rainfall fell in less than 24 hours. The north Cork towns of Fermoy and Mallow both deployed their full flood defences.

In Fermoy, the €30m protection scheme required the closure of the old Dublin-Cork road and the erection of giant flood barriers along the town's Kent Bridge.

Water was up to five feet deep along some parts of both Bandon and Midleton town centres.

A flight was cancelled from Cork Airport because of high winds and bus transfers were implemented for a portion of train journeys as Iarnrod Éireann conducted track inspections amid fears of flooding and subsidence.


Massive damage was also inflicted on Cork's road infrastructure with roads flooded and impassable in Bandon, Riverstick, Carrigaline, Mallow, Crookstown, Macroom, Dunmanway and Killeagh.

In Kerry, the Killarney-Cork/Mallow road was impassable at Glenflesk and Barraduff.

The coastguard had to airlift an injured Spanish fisherman from a boat in the height of the storm. A helicopter lifted the man to safety, amid gale force winds and waves of up to eight meters high.

The people of Enniscorthy were left picking up the pieces after one of the worst floods to hit in over 50 years swept through the town.

The River Slaney burst its banks during the early hours of Wednesday morning, unleashing a devastating deluge that washed through homes and businesses.

Members of the public were forced to move from one side of the town to the other via boats operated by Slaney Search and Rescue.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said he hoped that construction on a new flood-defence system in Enniscorthy will begin in 2016.

A €40m project has been earmarked and approved for the town for some years.

OPW engineer Jim Casey said that water levels were continuing to rise in rivers across the country.

"All gauges on the Shannon catchment are recording a rise. In the upper catchment, that is 12cm, in Athlone it is 6cm. That is 4cm higher than the peak of December 12," he said.

"In Cork, we have seen the Bandon and the Blackwater rise significantly and cause problems there.

"The Suir, the Barrow and the Nore have all been rising over the past 48 hours."


The Army was working with locals and volunteers in Kilkenny all day yesterday

The River Barrow and the Duiske stream burst their banks in Graiguenamanagh.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group's John Barry advised people to steer clear of flood waters.

"We emphasise safety in relation to flood waters and it may be contaminated with many hazardous agents," he said, adding: "We advise people to avoid contact with flood waters."

Flood waters poured into properties in the south of Galway on top of the floods that had been visited upon them during Storm Eva over the Christmas.

The main N18 road at Ardrahan was completely covered with water.

Local resident Bridie Willers, who was evacuated from her home on St Stephen's Day by the Civil Defence, said flood waters had risen another eight inches during Storm Frank.

She is living with a neighbour whose property is also now marooned.

"We get in and out by tractor but it looks like it could be April before we can go home," she said.

Her husband, who has been unwell, has gone to live with a daughter in Ennis while a son home from Toronto for Christmas spent the holidays saving furniture from the ravages of the flood waters.

"There were surveys done here in 1995 but nothing ever happened," she said.


"We never met the cost-benefit analysis or the environmental analysis but no one ever looks at the human cost, the stress for residents, for farmers."

Defence Forces personnel spent yesterday sandbagging homes located in and around Gort, Co Galway, as flood waters rose another six inches there.

In Craughwell, local people were left fearing the worst last night as the Dunkellin River rose again.

Councils in Mayo, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal urged motorists to drive with extreme care due to flooded roads and debris from trees.

Irish Independent

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