Thursday 26 April 2018

Storm Ophelia: Biggest clean-up operation in modern Cork history begins

More than 400 trees were toppled around Cork city and county - 17 alone on the Centrepark Road

Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen trees, N25 Cork City
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen trees, N25 Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen trees, N25 Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen tree Knocknaheeny, Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen trees Marina Park, Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen tree Knocknaheeny, Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Advertising hoarding is ripped off during Storm Ophelia near Kent Station Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Douglas Community School sports hall roof which was ripped off during Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE biggest clean-up operation in modern Cork history began today in the wake of Hurricane Ophelia as thousands were left without power and water while Gardaí warned that many roads remain dangerous due to fallen trees.

More than 400 trees were toppled around Cork city and county - 17 alone on the Centrepark Road.

Multiple roads remain impassable as Cork City Council and Co Council crews begin the mammoth task of removing the trees.

Gardaí pleaded with motorists to slow down and drive with care - and to be mindful of other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists who, due to fallen trees and debris, may be further out on roadways than normal.

City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Worst hit by fallen trees were Macroom, Kanturk, Clonakilty, Skibbereen, parts of Cork city, Glanmire, Kinsale and Midleton.

Engineers will also conduct safety assessments on numerous buildings which were damaged by the gusts which soared to a startling 190km/h off the west Cork coast.

Kilcorney Church outside Millstreet had part of its roof ripped off at the height of the hurricane.

Former Cork County Mayor Councillor John Paul O'Shea said the damage was "very, very sad" to see.

The principal of Douglas Community School admitted it was a miracle no-one was hurt when the entire roof was ripped off the secondary school gym.

Douglas Community School Principal Jim Long admitted he still cannot believe the force of the winds that ripped the entire roof off the school gym - sending chunks of the roof sheeting and insulation flying almost 100 metres across gardens in the leafy Cork community.

The sheeting was ripped off the roof with such force it smashed through a concrete wall some 80m from the school - and then peppered local gardens in Traberg Avenue with large fragments.

"I was here at the height of the storm and the winds were unbelievable," Mr Long said.

City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
City council workers begin the clean up begins following Storm Ophelia, Cork city. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The principal had attended the school as a precautionary measure given the damaging winds forecast by Met Éireann.

Luckily, the school had closed on Department of Education instructions - and all local residents were safely locked inside their homes.

"The noise was just unbelievable," he said.

"The sound of the wind and the gusts was incredible. I heard a smashing sound and the next thing I realised that the roof of the gym had given way."

Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen tree Knocknaheeny, Cork City
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hurricane 'Ophelia'.... fallen tree Knocknaheeny, Cork City Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

"I just cannot believe the damage that was caused - the power of the storm was incredible to have done this kind of destruction."

"The entire roof is gone - you are basically inside the gym looking up at the open sky through the roof girders."

Such was the fury of the storm that the heavy roof was ripped off and instantly shredded - with one giant piece, some 24m long, lying shattered across the school car park.

Other pieces - some as big as 10m long - were scattered into local gardens, the furthest piece of debris being found some 100m away.

One family had a lucky escape as a giant fragment became embedded in their timber garden decking and didn't strike the rear of their home.

A massive clean-up operation began at Douglas Community School with Loftus Demolition leading the effort to render the building safe and remove all roof debris.

Passage West GAA Club had the roof torn off its facility while major efforts are underway to deal with the partially collapsed Derrynane stand at Turner's Cross, the home of Cork City.

The league leaders are due to Play tonight (Tuesday) - and, if they win or draw, will be crowned Irish champions.

Thousands remain without power and, such was the damage to the power network in Cork, the ESB have warned that some customers face being without supplies for between five and 10 days.

Hundreds of others face losing their water supplies.

Damage was caused to the water network in  Innishannon and Kinsale - with householders expected to have supplies cut-off while repairs are conducted.

Eir admitted that unprecedented damage was caused to its network by the storm with the worst of the damage in the south and midlands.

People were warned that mobile phone connections across all networks may be affected as back-up battery packs begin to run out and repairs are conducted on damaged units.

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