independent

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Counting the cost of more flooding

David Looby

Published 11/02/2014 | 05:38

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Flooding

NEW ROSS businesses are still counting the cost after the worst flooding in decades led to four feet of water gathering in premises in Marshmeadows, where several hundred people are employed.

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Minister Paul Kehoe said he will be fighting to help New Ross businesses, which, he says, lost millions of euro through water damage last week.

Meanwhile, insurance companies are claiming businesses along the Barrow aren't covered for flooding as they are on a flood plain.

Up to 100 cars were written off in the flooding on Monday, with employees taking shelter in upstairs areas watching on helplessly.

Jim Sidney of Michael Sidney Motors saw eight of his cars flooded within a matter of minutes on the very day he had finished painting and fitting out his premises following damage caused by the October 2012 flood.

'The water all came up through the shores – it was just gushing up. One minute it was up to my ankles as I was moving a car and before I knew it the water was to my waist.'

Jim described a massive surge of water that badly damaged up to eight of his vehicles.

'We were only after finishing refurbishing the premises on Monday morning and then this happens. We got in new computers, new furniture suites and new windows and doors and the windows are the only things we can save. I have insurance but they're saying I'm on a flood plain. We've to start from scratch now.'

Jim said the business was hit by up to €60,000 in losses, while Sid's Diner next door was damaged by up to €100,000.

When this newspaper called to Jim on Tuesday he was busy clearing out water and debris from the back of his premises.

'I'll try to get the business back to where it was as best as I can and fight again. I was just getting back on my feet and getting customers back. I had a lot of cars to go out and now this.'

Jim is one of several businesspeople in Marshmeadows who worked on a protective earthen levy, but the force of the giant 3.8m storm tide destroyed it.

At Hennessy Plant Hire and Morris Oil the petrol pump business was closed. Catherine Hennessy said the water was waist high on Monday morning.

'The whole house is ruined again. It happened all of a sudden.'

Most of the stock was lost in the flood and the fridges and credit card machines were destroyed.

'We'll probably have to replace the pumps. It's a disaster.'

The plant hire business was also badly flooded.

Across the road a line of abandoned cars told the story of the scale of the flooding, which saw New Ross River Rescue workers rescue staff at NVD by boat.

NVD business development executive Elaine Furlong was among the company's staff members who lost a car to the flooding.

'It all happened in a matter of minutes. We could see the water coming into the yard. There was no question that anyone could get to their car. We were just surrounded by water everywhere but everyone kept calm. It's just devastating to see the place like this. We're all just dazed.

'It was up five steps on the stairs. We were all upstairs and we were in the building until 4pm when New Ross River Rescue and New Ross Boat Club came for us.'

Elaine said 20 cars were destroyed, adding: 'We were very lucky nobody was hurt.'

IT and administrative manager at Campus Oil Brendan Roche said their business was lucky to escape the flooding: 'The water came right up to the door. It came over the back wall into Campfreight and it was up to the bonnets and to the roofs of the cars. We never saw flooding here up until a month ago. It was absolutely frightening what happened. It was like what you'd see at a beach – it just kept coming and coming. We had to move all the cards to high ground. It only stopped when the wind stopped and the high tide finished.'

Campfreight driver Patrick Byrne from Arthurstown left Marshmeadows at 4am on Monday. He got a call on Monday later in the day to say his car was flooded. 'It's a write-off. Luckily I'm insured.'

Campfreight owner George O'Leary said: 'It was really bad. The tide was raging and it spilled all the water over the bank and all the water that spilled over couldn't get back because it fell into all the holes and crevices.'

Seamus McGuinness of Prim-Ed publishing said it was a pity council workers didn't react quickly enough: 'Within 15 minutes there was pure devastation. There was an Amber Alert for high tides and high winds.

'We all pay rates to the council who knew this was going to happen. Why didn't they have enough pumps on standby? Twenty minutes of pumping would have solved this problem.'

New Ross Standard

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