'We need flood study completed as soon as possible in Cromane'
Locals in Cromane Lower are left terrified every time they hear a storm rising - and are deeply concerned that their homes will remain at the mercy of the elements in the coming years. That's according to local man Patrick O'Sullivan, whose own home was flooded five years ago, and Fianna Fáil Councillor John Francis Flynn.
In early January, 2014, Mr O'Sullivan found one morning that the sea had blasted its way into his home. An embankment protecting the area had broken, leaving Cromane Lower exposed.
"We only had the house about six years at that stage," Mr O'Sullivan said. "The embankment hasn't been maintained for about 30 years. Prior to that, it had been maintained by the Land Commission.
"Since then, though, the weather has worn it down bit by bit over the years. After that flooding in 2014, Kerry County Council [KCC] and the OPW carried out temporary works on the embankment, and they did a very good job, raising it and rock-armouring it.
"But the funding wasn't there to finish the job, and there's still a big stretch of about 300 metres left exposed, and the embankment has taken hits in the five years since. This needs to be seen to, urgently. Every time you hear a storm brewing, you can't sleep, you put everything up on tables."
Kerry County Council has consistently said that such works in the Castlemaine Harbour area cannot take place until a Coastal Erosion and Flood Risk Management Study is carried out.
Cllr John Francis Flynn said he and the locals understand the need for this study and examination of how any works would impact other parts of the area to be included in the study. He has, however, called for the study to be carried out as quickly as possible.
"I understand that it's going to tender shortly, but whatever person carries this out, it's expected to take about a year," he said.
"On top of that, with the entire application process for works, you could be waiting another year for work to start.
"I appreciate the need for a study, but what I'm calling for is for pressure to be put on whoever is carrying it out to get through it as quickly as possible. I also appreciate that we have to look at how any works here in Cromane Lower will affect everywhere else around. One thing I'd say, though, is I don't think raising the embankment would affect the surrounding areas.
"It's not a matter of if the high tides, high winds, and bad storms get past the embankment. It's when."
"We need what's there to be maintained, and to finish what was started," Mr O'Sullivan said. "The banks will have to go higher and stronger."