Thursday 23 October 2014

What do I tell my staff – sign on the dole?

FIRST PERSON: Claire Nash Restaurant owner, Cork City

Published 06/02/2014 | 02:30

Claire Nash in Nash 19 on Princes Street
Claire Nash in Nash 19 on Princes Street

I was 22 years in business here just last Monday. But how do you celebrate? Look around, my place is completely destroyed. We're starting the clean-up but we don't even know if we are going to suffer more flooding next weekend.

We did everything we possible could to protect the place. We have floodgates, we put down sandbags and the water still poured in.

Other traders on Marlborough Street rang me after 8pm on Tuesday to say the flooding was going to be bad. But no one expected it to be as bad as this around Oliver Plunkett Street.

In fact, this place was still flooding two hours after high tide (9pm) on Tuesday night. It came in from everywhere – even up the drains and the toilets. The water pressure must have been incredible.

It's hard. It is really tough. I'm the type of person that always tries to focus on the positive. However, that is easier said than done when you look at the sheer scale of this kind of damage.

My place was left in an awful state.

What do I tell my staff now? There are 24 people working here. What about their jobs? Do I have to tell them, sorry, you have to start signing on until the damage is fixed? It is really tough.

I have flood insurance – I am one of the lucky ones because a lot of traders around here don't have any insurance cover because of previous claims.

Something has to be done because this kind of thing just cannot keep happening.

We were told that the Cork Main Drainage scheme in 2004/2005 was going to help prevent this kind of thing from ever happening.

I think everyone needs to sit down now and say, right, what are we going to do to protect the city and traders and householders?

Because the bottom line is that another one or two floods of this scale are going to put a large part of the city centre out of business.

People have been fantastic the way they have rallied around to help one another. But there is only so much you can do. The damage is bad but the loss of trade because of clean-ups and closures is almost worse.

I was talking to someone from the OPW who was gauging the level of the flooding. Even he looked shocked by how bad it was.

We had bad floods in 2004 and then in 2009, but this is the third bad flood in the city centre in just over a month and it cannot be sustained.

Something has to be done about proper flood barriers and we cannot afford to wait until 2017 or 2018 for it.

Claire Nash was speaking to Ralph Riegel

Irish Independent

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