Saturday 25 October 2014

Superstorm clean-up begins as State eyes aid from EU

Brian Byrne, Ralph Riegel and Majella O'Sullivan

Published 08/01/2014 | 02:30

Youghal’s damaged boardwalk Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Youghal’s damaged boardwalk Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The clean-up under way at Tramore’s promenade. Picture: Dylan Vaughan
The clean-up under way at Tramore’s promenade. Picture: Dylan Vaughan

THE massive clean-up in the wake of superstorm 'Christine' is under way after the gale-force winds finally abated.

Local authorities in the worst-affected areas have been given until next week to provide an initial assessment of the damage -- thought to cost the country up to €300m.

But many coastal communities will be counting the cost for months. Irish MEPs have also said Ireland could draw down funding from the €500m European Union Solidarity Fund, set up to respond to major natural disasters.

Youghal Town Council is determined to try to repair its €250,000 timber boardwalk, which was virtually destroyed by Sunday's gales.

In Kerry, a shipwreck that remained almost totally buried in the sand for 111 years was finally uncovered.

The Sunbeam ran aground on Rossbeigh beach in January 1903 and only its gunnel protruded from the sand until it was unearthed by the ferocity of the storm.

In Waterford, council efforts were successful in stabilising a sinkhole or chasm bored underneath a major Tramore road by the waves.

It took a 20-strong construction crew working around the clock, and eight truck loads of concrete, to stabilise the chasm that at one stage measured seven-metres-by-six-metres, closed Strand Road in the popular seaside town and threatened to undermine the foundations of two nearby apartment blocks.

The raging storm left Tramore's promenade buried under more than 30cm of sand and debris.

Islands off the west coast were hit by some of the most damaging high winds and waves. A 20-metre fin whale had to be buried for a second time. It had washed up on Keel Beach, Achill Island, last month, and died a few hours later.

Despite being buried deep beneath the beach's sand dunes, the body of the creature re-emerged following the deluge of stormy weather.

Locals said the damage on the island was like "something you'd see in an apocalypse".

Maggie Morrisson described how the water had overcome sandbags at her sister's home, breaking through her front door and knocking over her fridge freezer and piano, leaving behind a trail of dead worms, bottles and sludge.

On Inishmore, Galway Bay, islanders across the 31 sqkm island are without vital services after storms destroyed roads on either side of Athchursail Arann, the island's only fuel depot and waste recycling facility.

The plant's director, Cathy Ni Ghoill, said: "It's like a sea monster came up and took a huge bite" out of the island's main coastal road.

"We can't get our trucks out to deliver home heating. We collect food bins from houses, but we can't collect them either. Now the waste is building up outside people's houses," she told the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, the promenade at Lahinch, Co Clare, that suffered what has been estimated to be several million euro worth of damage, could reopen before the weekend.

Senior engineer Tom Tiernan said council crews were engaged in a clean-up operation and it was the council's intention to reopen the promenade by or before the weekend.

Carrigaholt post office reopened yesterday but only because a local farmer was able to take postmaster Patrick Gavin through flood waters from his home -- one of six left stranded at Kilcredaun, Loop Head peninsula, after a sea wall was destroyed.

Walkers in Salthill were greeted by the sight of a dead dolphin on Grattan Road beach. It is thought that it was badly injured before being swept ashore where it died.

Estimates put the cost of the damage at more than €300m.

Irish Independent

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