Sunday 22 October 2017

Two-hour downpour causes €10m in damages

Residents of
Blackpool in Cork
City look out their
windows after the
heavy rains
flooded the street
Residents of Blackpool in Cork City look out their windows after the heavy rains flooded the street
David Bowe surveys the damage in his pub in Douglas
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

DAVID Bowe spent years building O'Driscoll's into a successful pub. But that endeavour was wiped out in minutes as almost a month's rain fell in a little more than two hours.

O'Driscoll's in Douglas, Co Cork, yesterday resembled something akin to a war-zone.

Mr Bowe admitted he never expected in his worst nightmares to see the scenes that greeted him at 4am yesterday.

Nightmare

"There is over 20ft of water in the (pub) cellar -- the damage caused is absolutely beyond belief. It is like a war zone in there -- you wouldn't believe that water could do so much damage. It's like the aftermath of a hurricane," he said.

Dave -- and Peter Collins who runs Barry's Pub across the road -- now face repair bills extending to €300,000 and up to eight weeks out of business.

"It's like a bad dream -- a total nightmare. I still can't believe what I saw when I opened the pub door. There were feet of water in the pub -- and the water was bubbling up through the door to the cellar and that is almost 20ft deep," he said.

The two thriving businesses employ 80 full and part-time staff between them -- and most now face unemployment until the premises can re-open.

Peter Collins fought back tears as he surveyed how two hours of rainfall could devastate a food and drinks business he carefully built up over the years.

"It happened just as we were experiencing a bit of a turn-around in the economy -- it is absolutely heartbreaking. But we'll fight back -- we're starting the refurbishment immediately," he said.

An estimated €10m worth of damage was caused when rivers and drains in parts of Cork city and county failed to cope with 50mm of rainfall which fell in just over two hours -- almost two weeks of normal rainfall.

The downpour was the equivalent to the entire monthly rainfall in June last year in a very wet Claremorris, Co Mayo.

Lightning also struck a Cork hospital and a young man was treated for electrocution in Clonakilty after he stepped into floodwaters that were in contact with a power source.

One Douglas woman, Helen Fitzgerald (67), saw her beautifully maintained cottage left under 3ft of water -- and inches of stinking muck.

Blackpool businessman Michael Moriarty -- nicknamed 'The Baldy Barber' -- saw his Blackpool premises submerged.

"The problem is that I don't have flood insurance -- so this will all be paid for out of my own pocket," he said.

The storm also caused a lightning-strike on St Stephen's Hospital which sparked a minor roof fire. Two people had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Both Cork City and County Councils triggered their emergency plans.

Clonakilty's Mayor Cionnaith O Suilleabhain described the flooding as "absolutely unimaginable" with the town's main street under 3ft of water.

In Cork city, the worst flooding hit Douglas, Bishopstown, Ballyphehane, Togher, Ballyvolane, Blackpool and Glanmire.

An ESB sub-station in Douglas had to be shut-down with over 15,000 people left without power. Damage was also caused to the recently refurbished Douglas Shopping Centre.

The Meadowbrook Estate in Glanmire was cut off, with some homes under almost 5ft of water -- and Park Court in Ballyvolane also badly hit.

Cork County Manager Martin Riordan said their main priorities were the serious flooding in Douglas and Clonakilty.

"The system just cannot deal with those types of downpours. It was quite frightening," he said.

Irish Independent

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