Fears resurface after flash flood in Clonakilty

Thu, Aug 30, 2012, 01:00

WHILE DAMAGE from a flash flood that swept through Clonakilty on Tuesday night was minimal, surface water that reached up to 30cm in places has left a psychological scar.

Much of the town was spared flood damage thanks to flood protection gates and sandbags. However, overflowing drains to the rear of premises on Connolly Street – the epicentre of the devastating flood nine weeks ago – caused damage to businesses.

The problem was man-made and the solution should be too, said Ger Harte, who owns more than 10 properties in the area and was yesterday cleaning a unit on Connolly Street which had been vacated after the previous flood.

“There are a lot of angry people in Clonakilty today. You can talk about an act of God but the reality is at least seven or eight flood plains were built on around the town. We are paying the price for that now.”

Locals say a problem that began at the planning stage has been passed on to the Office of Public Works (OPW), with no immediate plans to implement flood protection measures.

Temporary solutions include an emergency pipe network to allow flood waters to flow into the bay at the Waterfront development, one of the town’s former flood plains.

A second solution is the provision of a retention lake that could act as a dam to stop the flow of water into the town from the western end.

Mr Harte said: “With the OPW it could be three years before anything is done. We need some temporary measures. The psychological impact of living with the constant threat of flooding is huge.”

Next door at Bella Napoli restaurateur Giovanni Perrozzi’s family was sweeping out flood water. A flood barrier blocking the doorway proved useless as water rose up from a kitchen drain.

“We lost everything the last time, including €15,000 worth of food. If this happens again businesses will begin to close down. Because no one has insurance now.”

Fax Bridge, Harte’s Spar and Wolfe Tone Street were impassable for up to three hours before flood waters receded at 11pm.

Clonakilty mayor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin advised residents to be “as prepared” as possible for future flash flooding.

“Sandbags, flood barriers, anything to protect properties. Prevention is key. The rain waters disappeared so fast afterwards it was like pulling a plug in a sink. But we were very lucky.”