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Coastal communities left stunned and helpless by ferocity of storms

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Brendan Cahill takes refuge with dog Paulo during heavy flooding on Oliver Plunkett street, Cork city

Brendan Cahill takes refuge with dog Paulo during heavy flooding on Oliver Plunkett street, Cork city

Brendan Cahill takes refuge with dog Paulo during heavy flooding on Oliver Plunkett street, Cork city

A PERFECT storm that whipped in from the Celtic Sea brought torrential rains, gale force winds and wrought havoc for coastal communities in the South East.

Coasts from Cork to Waterford and on to Wexford were battered relentlessly by an on-shore easterly gale with ferocious gusts driving the sea inland

And communities well used to stormy conditions were stunned by the ferocity of one of the worst storms in decades.

Though it was widely forecast, the speed with which the storm struck left people in the path of the storm stunned and helpless.

A lethal combination of high tide, onshore gales and relentless rainfall defeated even the most stout flood defences.

This morning, householders, businesses and local Governments will be faced with a level of damage unprecedented at a national level.

A day of bright sunshine and blue skies turned into a night of cruel winds, fierce driving rain and relentless floods.

All of south-east was hit as gale force winds of 115kmh and rain battered towns throughout Wexford and Waterford

In Waterford city, a huge effort was launched by council workers from early in the day to fortify bridges in the city along the River Suir but the river broke onto the quays in Waterford's city centre before 9pm as the tide reached its peak.

The quays in Dungarvan were also closed as was the Youghal Road on the edge of the town near the sea wall, and the promenade and surrounding areas in Tramore where there was extensive flooding.

DEVASTATION

The Poleberry area of Waterford was among the worst hit but there were similar scenes of devastation along the Cork coast where heavy sections of the roadway in Kinsale were lifted and torn asunder by surging waters.

In Wexford, there was extensive flooding in New Ross where the Quays were submerged while isolated roads throughout the county were impassable by flooding and falling trees.

Local men and women braved the elements to try and shore up makeshift defences.

In Passage East, the sea invaded the coastal town with one of the highest and most dangerous surges seen in y ears.

Similar problems were reported in Cheekpoint in Co Waterford and Ballyhack and Arthurstown in Wexford.

In the Midlands, some 2,000 sandbags had been distributed around Athlone as residents prepared for the rising water levels on the Shannon to wreak havoc for a second night. Even last week, the River Shannon was one mile wide at Banagher Bridge.

The local council implemented its Emergency Flood Response ahead of heavy rain forecast for the rest of the week, which is likely to result in further flooding in at-risk areas.

Beaches

Meanwhile, beaches across the country could lose out on their prestigious Blue Flag awards this year as a result of damage caused by ongoing storms.

Environmental body An Taisce awarded 74 beaches and marinas with the worldwide quality standard in 2013, but warned that some local authorities could be forced to withdraw their applications this year.

A spokesperson for An Taisce said the body had "serious concerns for some candidate Blue Flag and Green Coast award beaches which have been devastated by the recent storms, particularly where access roads, carparks and other amenities have been destroyed".

Irish Independent