SuperValu among businesses hit by flash flooding
Helplessness and a feeling of losing a business built up over three generations were the feelings flooding through New Ross framer Brian Bailey as water poured into the basement of his South Street business.
"The glass smashed when the shores filled. It kept coming in; it was like a river,” he told this newspaper, while standing in his basement.
"The water was up above my ankles. I work by that window and if I was there and was trying to keep it out, I would have been struck by the glass. Who knows what would have happened.”
He said the water was over three feet high, adding that he is so lucky most of his customers’ products were upstairs.
The building dates back to the 1850s and hasn’t been flooded in 100 years, he added.
"We’re the third generation of the family running the business. The water just came with such force; you can’t stop it. Thank God I wasn’t down underneath it as if I was I would have gotten the full force of the glass.”
Throughout the frightening hour or so his main concern was his customers’ products.
"You just have no control; it’s frightening. The quays are so well protected now, but it just came charging down the hill.”
Neighbouring businesses also had rainwater flow through them, with staff seen squeezing mops replete with water out in front of business doors on Monday evening.
Brian said his basement was always bone dry and a cool place to work in every summer. Using a hoover he pumped out 9 gallons of water through a hole in the floorboards, adding that there was still a huge volume of water remaining underneath.
Business owners in New Ross spoke of never seeing anything like the flooding that occurred late Monday afternoon, when an estimated 40 litres of water fell in every square metre of the town.
"We had the flood barrier up, but it was coming over it,” Kathleen in Kavanagh's said.
The sheer volume of water combined with the unpredictability of the weather meant many business owners didn’t know if they would be able to save their premises and stock.
Eamonn Moran in Kavanagh’s described seeing ‘all hell break loose’.
He said the drains were blocked form bark and other items from High Hill, exacerbating the problem.
Tina Saridakis and her staff at The Cracked Teapot were taking their first break after a busy day at around 4.30 p.m. when water burst through the back door.
"We had customers in enjoying dessert and coffee. We ended up having to lock the front door to stop it coming in, as it was coming in the back as well. It was biblical!”
Recalling how the weather changed so suddenly after what was a very warm, sunny day, Tina said it was a frightening experience.
“The whole place went dark. I thought Oh My God the whole place is going to be ruined. I have never seen anything like it in that short space of time.”
She said the whole episode lasted around 40 minutes. During this time she made an attempt to free a drain out back when the hailstones started falling, only to find that it was clear or rain and debris
"It was just the volume of water flooding through and meeting in the middle.”
Thankful that her partner Jim had set the fridges at a height, she said at least no electrical damage was caused.
”We were here all evening cleaning the place out. We had to throw out all our shoes. Our outdoor chairs ended up in Supervalu and the Kennedy Boutique Hotel car park.”
Tina is planning to open very soon, and is very appreciative of the tireless work council workers carried out up till midnight on Monday, cleaning the streets and assisting business owners like herself on Quay Street.
At Supervalu, manager Tommy Morrissey said he had no choice but to close the store on Monday evening as tiles fell from the ceiling with the force of the rain and hail fall.
“We were so lucky where it came down,” the store manager said, pointing to the area in front of where cashiers work.
"We closed the shop for safety. When these tiles get wet they go to pieces. It looked worse than it was,” he said, underneath the suspended ceiling.
"All of the staff pulled together and we cleared the water and got the place cleaned up. We are open for business and all are welcome.”
The supermarket was surrounded by a moat of water on Monday evening for hours as the north side of the quay road was submerged in two to three feet of water, prior to it being pumped out that evening.
Up to 50 businesses are thought to have been affected, with leaks reported on North Street, John Street, on the quay and along South and Mary streets.
Water poured down on clothing, food etc, but most businesses escaped without major damage to equipment or their premises.