Houses evacuated as 'perfect storm' hits

Dnal Nolan

Published 08/01/2014 | 05:36

Ballylongford Enterprise Company chairman Noel Lynch cleaning up after the flood in the parish hall..
Ballylongford Enterprise Company chairman Noel Lynch cleaning up after the flood in the parish hall..

TENS of thousands of euros-worth of damage was caused to houses in Ballylongford when storm force winds combined with exceptionally high tides to wreak havoc in the worst flooding seen there in decades.

TENS of thousands of euros-worth of damage was caused to houses in Ballylongford when storm force winds combined with exceptionally high tides to wreak havoc in the worst flooding seen there in decades.

Water surged into homes when the Ballyline River burst its banks in the centre of the village shortly after 6.30am on Friday in the worst flooding seen in Ballylongford in at least 50 years.

It was caused by what the village described as its 'perfect storm' - powerful inshore winds combined with an extraordinarily high tide of 5.3m. The Ballyline River burst its banks flooding over 20 homes in Bridge Street, including the new Parish Centre that was only completed last year at a cost of €700,000.

Homes in nearby Quay Street were also flooded as another river was backed-up by the high tides.

Fire crews and council workers were on hand from 4 a.m. in preparation for the flooding, rushing into action with pumps to clear Bridge Street as it began to flood. Up to 20 firemen arrived in two tenders to work alongside council staff and locals.

They were praised by locals as the heroes of the hour without whom part of the village would have remained submerged throughout Friday.

While most of the flood water had been pumped out by 9 am., a trail of devastation was left in it.s wake with carpets, wooden floors and furniture destroyed in over 20 premises. Residents are now faced, once again with, devastating losses and without insurance cover as the area has been hit numerous times by lesser flooding in the recent past.

Rescuers found one pensioner sitting in her home with floodwater up to her shins as she struggled to cope with the devastation in an indication of the emotional toll on locals.

Parish Hall committee members are still waiting to see if the solid timber floor laid down at a cost of tens of thousands last year can be saved.

"We even raised the floor by six inches as a measure against flooding but it was no use when the river burst its banks out the back," Ballylongford Enterprise Company chairman Noel Lynch said. "It was our perfect storm, force ten winds combined with exceptionally high tides. Raising the river bank now is the only thing that might help."

Residents were braced for the flooding all night amid warnings from Kerry County Council and the painful memories of high-tide flooding in the past. Sandbags were deployed, but proved of little use as the levels rose. Eamon Sweeney pointed to the high-water marks on the first steps of the stairs in his Bridge Street premises. "You can only put it down to an act of God, but this is the second time in 11 years," he said.

St Brigid's Day in 2002 was the last time the area witnessed severe flooding, but Friday's surge far outstripped it. Even Quay Street was hit - for the first time in 52 years.

"My father said that it was 52 years ago since the old house was last flooded on this site," Marie Kennelly said. "It started coming in the back door at 6.35am and in the front door five minutes later."

The water rose to over two foot in front of the old creamery opposite her home with seaweed littering the street further up towards the village cross. Quay Street flooded when another inlet under the bridge by the old creamery burst its banks.

"It came in so slowly, as if someone was simply pouring it out of a bucket under the doors. I've never seen it so bad," Ms Kennelly said.

Kerryman

Promoted articles

Read More

Promoted articles

GrabOne Deals

News