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Thursday 26 April 2018

Cork suffers heavy flooding as combination of heavy rainfall and high tides causes tidal damage

Band of rain across southern counties Credit: Met Eireann
Band of rain across southern counties Credit: Met Eireann
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Cork suffered flooding today as the combination of heavy rainfall and high tides caused tidal damage in some low lying areas.

The city remains on orange alert for flooding with a further high spring tide at 8pm this evening.

Cork is expected to receive up to 70mm of rainfall in a 24 hour period up to 10pm this evening.

High spring tides this morning caused flooding in low lying areas including Morrison’s Quay, Lavitt’s Quay, Sharman-Crawford Street,

Union Quay and Georges Quay.

Flooding was also reported in areas of Oliver Plunkett Street, the South Mall and South Terrace.

Read More: Three weather warnings in place as torrential rain and gale force winds hit

A number of roads in Cork county were also left impassable due toflooding with the worst hit areas including Kinsale and Carrigaline.

Previous flooding in Bandon, Co Cork. Picture PA
Previous flooding in Bandon, Co Cork. Picture PA

Cork City and Co Councils had issued a flood warning early on Saturday.

Crews inspected drains and all vulnerable areas in a bid to minimise the flooding.

However, property owners were also warned to take every possible precaution to protect against any flooding that might occur.

Cork traders have repeatedly warned that the proposed €50m flood plan for the city needs to be accelerated.

Ireland’s most flood-prone city won’t have its new protection scheme fully in place for another four years.

Cork traders said they don’t believe construction work will begin until 2017 – meaning the flood defence network won’t be fully operational until 2019.

Cork Business Association (CBA) chief executive Lawrence Owens expressed concern that traders have up to four years and the

flood-threat of three winters to wait before full protection is in place.

“I don’t think money is the issue,” he said.

“I think it is just the process and the best ‘guestimate’ at this stage is that we may be in a construction phase sometime around 2017.”

“Unfortunately, it will not be before then,” he declared.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) repeatedly warned that the Cork scheme is extremely complex with a significant number of challenging design details.

The €50m flood defence plan will replace railings and low river walls with quays of up to 1.5m (4.5ft) in height.

Cork has been hit four times over the past six years by disastrous floods, one of which inflicted an estimated €100m in damage in 2009.

However, the Government and OPW opted for a €50m flood protection plan based on riverside defences rather than a Thames-style tidal barrier because the latter could cost as much as €1bn.

The OPW plan includes major embankments for the Lee Fields, flood walls by the Mardyke and increasing the height of all existing low

city centre quay walls with structures of between 1.2m and 1.5m in height.

It also includes the covering of some vulnerable culverts and work to both bridges and drains to enhance water flow at peak discharge periods.

All open railings around the city quays will either be replaced with walls or supplemented by portable flood barriers.

The scale and complexity of the scheme has meant plans have taken much longer than expected to prepare.

The OPW plan will also involved careful water management between Cork councils and agencies such as the ESB which operate dams in the upper Lee valley.

Areas such as Grenville Place, Morrisson’s Island, Penrose Quay, Sharman-Crawford Street and Lapp’s Quay are all earmarked for high

quay walls aimed at keeping floodwaters back.

However, that will involve doubling the height of some existing walls or replacing metal fences with stone walls of 1.5m in height.

The OPW insisted that their plan will protect the city and its vulnerable suburbs.

“This scheme will provide protection for Cork city against floods from the river with a return period of about 100 years on average,” an OPW official explained

“It will also help with floods from the tide with a return period of about 200 years on average.”

“That is the best international standard and practice in terms of providing flood relief defence for a major urban area.”

Former OPW Minister Brian Hayes admitted that Ireland urgently had to “ramp up” its national flood defence spending given the increasing threat facing vulnerable Irish cities, towns and coastal communities.

However, Cork business groups expressed “deep concern” that the city will have to face up to four years of flood threats before modern defences are fully in place.


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