Flooding: worst affected areas

Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 00:00

A round-up of the counties most severely hit by the flooding.

CORK

Cork city experienced some of the worst flooding in twenty years overnight with gardaí being left with little choice but to close certain areas due to the flood waters.

In Cork city the quay wall near the Mercy Hospital collapsed in the early hours of this morning causing serious flooding. Patients and staff in the Mercy had to be moved to more secure parts of the building.

Mercy hospital CEO Pat Madden said the situation was dealt with as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We moved all patient care up to the first and second floors of the hospital. Our emergency department which is right opposite the river was flooded and we also had to close that. That remains closed while we assess the damage".

Gardaí are advising that all bridges from Inniscarra in to the city had been closed. Gardaí say Patrick Street, Grand Parade, South Mall and Washington Street have now all been reopened. However, the Western Road will remain closed. The HSE is asking members of the public to avoid attending hospital emergency departments if at all possible and to make their local doctor their first port of call.

St Aloysius School near the city centre did not open this morning arising out of the poor weather conditions while lectures at University College Cork are cancelled this morning. The nearby Brookfield Leisure Centre also remains closed.

Washington Street North, Grand Parade and South Main Street were under several feet of water overnight. The worst was over by 9am and the flood waters that threatened to engulf the city centre have now passed their peak.

The situation became serious last night when water released from the Inniscarra Dam caused the River Lee to burst its banks. By 11.30pm the Western suburbs were under several feet of water. The Kingsley Hotel in Cork city was evacuated at 2.30am and taxi drivers reported that students were “swimming” on the Western Road at 5am today.

Thousands of homes in Cork are without drinking water this morning as the main pumping station at the Lee fields had to be turned off because of the risk of contamination by flood waters. It is thought it will be this evening at the earliest before this situation can be rectified. Members of the public are advised to use bottle water this morning. They are also asked to check on elderly neighbours who may be impacted by the water situation.

Meanwhile, Bus Éireann services in Cork city have been hit hard by the flooding. Some suburban services are being re routed this morning and delays are expected.

In the county the Mallow to Killarney Road is restored to two lanes this morning after flooding overnight. The Fermoy Road out of Mallow was impassable overnight as was the Mallow to Killavullen Road. In Fermoy the bridge was impassable as was the Tallow Road and Ashe Quay.

There is only route in to and out of Bandon this morning through Ballinspittle and on to Kinsale. Motorists are being asked to avoid Bandon this morning.

Garda Inspector Ger Lacey of the west Cork traffic division says access routes in to Bandon are blocked this morning.

“They are in a couple of feet of water. The main Cork to Bandon road is completely blocked. There is only one route available at the moment and that is being kept for emergency use that is the route through Ballinspittle and Kinsale. So we are asking all motorists to please avoid Bandon. Don’t try to get in.”

Clonakilty is passable this morning but there is still flooding in roads around Macroom, Coachford and Crookstown. In East Cork traffic is down to one lane between Killeagh and Castlemartyr and motorists are being advised to take their time on their journeys.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Dara Murphy is urging the Government to step in and assist members of the public impacted by some of the worst flooding in the city in decades.

"We will certainly be making a call to the Government to take in to account that there is a very serious problem we have here in the second city. It is the worst flooding we have seen in twenty to forty years and something will have to be done for the city. Any help we can give traders would be helpful."

Jonathan O'Connor who owns a restaurant on North Main Street in Cork city centre was among the householders assessing the damage to their premises. He said "we have three foot of water in the kitchen at the moment. We have wood panelling which we put in two years ago which is now rotten". - OLIVIA KELLEHER

GALWAY

Extensive flooding across Galway which has cut off all major approach routes by road and rail may result in the opening this afternoon one lane of a new N6 motorway stretch still under construction.

Galway West TD Frank Fahey (FF) said the National Road Authority (NRA) will open one lane temporarily to provide access to the city, with a speed limit set at 50 km, and extra gardaí will be deployed to monitor this.

The NRA said it was “examining the situation” this morning and could not confirm when the lane might open temporarily. The last section of the N6 is not due to open officially until early next year.

Dublin-Galway rail services had to be curtailed at Athlone, and Dublin-Galway bus services were also cancelled due to flooding in Ballinasloe and Craughwell and on several other stretches of the N6.

Schools have closed across the eastern part of the county, and gardai have appealed to motorists to stay away from Ballinasloe altogether, as the River Suck burst its banks yesterday, flowing into St Michael’s Square. Some 40 families had to leave their homes when they were evacuated.

Defence Force personnel with the Army Western Brigade have been deployed in Ballinasloe to assist local authority and Civil Defence personnel, and over 5,000 sandbags have been laid. A

precautionary boil water notice is also in place in Ballinasloe, due to fears that untreated water may have affected the public supply of drinking water. The notice also extends to a number of group water schemes in the immediate area.

Apart from Ballinasloe, the N6 is also impassable at Craughwell, which has been flooded, as is Athenry. On the N17, the road from Galway to Tuam is still closed at Two Mile Ditch, Castlegar, where houses have flooded, and there is also flooding near Clonboo on the N84 Galway to Headford road.

In Kilbeacanty/Beagh, near Gort, a family of five including an 87-year old woman, had to be airlifted from their home last night by Irish Coast Guard helicopter. Flooding has continued in south Galway in Gort, particularly Crowe Street, while the N18 between Galway and Limerick is also flooded at Labane.

Up to 100 residents of Abbeyknockmoy in north Galway spent much of the night digging a trench to alleviate flooding, and were critical of lack of support from Galway City Council. Claregalway residents have also questioned whey there was no attempt by the local authority to clear drains before the Clare river burst its banks.

Independent councillor Jim Cuddy said that cutbacks in contract staff employed by Galway County Council earlier this year meant that the local authority was now unable to cope. Residents and businesses in vulnerable areas had been told that the council couldn’t deliver sandbags due to lack of staff.

The ESB began disconnecting electricity supplies in several parts of Ballinasloe, Co Galway today for safety reasons. It apologised to customers affected, but said that "water and electricity don't mix". It intends to monitor the situation in other parts of Ballinasloe throughout the afternoon. - LORNA SIGGINS

KILKENNY AND CARLOW

In Co Kilkenny the worst affected areas are in the River Nore catchment areas according to the local authority.

Serious flooding has occured in Thomastown, while Inistioge is under three feet of water.

The R700 through Inistioge is closed.

Motorists are advised not to attempt to drive south from Kilkenny towards New Ross.

The Gowran to Bennettsbridge road is closed, and the N9 road between Kilkenny and Waterford has also been affected with traffic management is place. Kilkenny Co Council is providing over 5,000 sandbags to people in affected areas.

In Carlow the local authority said a number of streets are flooded and inaccessible. The civil defence was on duty to assist members of the public leaving their homes and trying to go to work this morning. The local authority said a boat had been used to ferry hundreds of people through water-logged streets in the centre of Carlow town.

The River Barrow has not yet peaked but is expected to peak in the next few hours. However, there has already been some flooding in towns and villages south of Carlow town in Leighlinbridge, and in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny. - MICHAEL PARSONS

KERRY

Guests at one of Killarney's oldest hotels, the Lake Hotel on the shores of Lough Lein, are being evacuated.

Some 120 guests are being booked into nearby hotels after the lake rose to its higest eever levels in living memory in the early housrs. The laundry and other service rooms of the hotel founded in 1820 flooded early in the morning. Staff and management were fighting with sandbags and machinery to keep out the waters which were lapping at the walls of the and dining room at lunchtime.

The N70 near Tralee has re-opened this lunchtime. A spokesman for Kerry County Council said flooding was still present, but the road which links with Castlemaine was passable. However the N71 Ring of Kerry road remains closed, with severe flooding as lake water continues to rise there. -ANNE LUCEY

CLARE

An almost deserted Ennis town centre had an eerie feel this afternoon as the only sound were the occasional sound of sirens and mechanic pumps operating to prevent further damage caused by the River Fergus bursting its banks.

Flood waters had cut off approach roads to the town centre to traffic and the only vehicles able to access the town were army trucks, Garda cars and emergency vehicles.

This morning, businesses in the lower Abbey Street and Francis Street area woke up to find the Fergus had burst its banks at the Club Bridge causing significant water damage to business premises in the area.

At one stage, fardaí were preventing pedestrians from crossing the nearby ‘Post Office’ bridge over fears that it could collapse as the river height increased to dangerously high levels.

Clare county manager, Tom Coughlan described the flooding as the worst in living memory with the Council’s emergency plan being put into place, which involved army personnel aiding the efforts of Council staff, the gardaí, the fire and rescue service and the civil defence in dealing with the flood damage.

The Council confirmed that that 52 households from Elm Park and Oakwood Drive near Ennis’s Gort Rd had been evacuated overnight – some by boat.

Sandbags were yesterday being distributed to householders in several housing
estates across Ennis believed to be vulnerable as the town braced itself for high tide last night.

All schools, with the exception of Rice College, were closed yesterday with much of the lower-lying grounds of St Flannan’s College below water with the water levels breaching the school’s perimeter wall.

The only access routes to Ennis were the Tulla Rd and Kilrush Rd and all other approach roads to Ennis were closed. Gardaí tonight requested motorists to avoid Ennis.

Along with the River Fergus bursting its banks, Girroga Lake on the northern outskirts of the town also burst its banks and was last night flooded parts of the Gort Rd Business Park where a number of multinationals, Microsemi and Essilor are based.

The flooding has occurred in spite of the Government currently spending €20 million on a flood protection scheme in the Parnell St car park area of the town which has suffered from serious flooding in the past.

However, that area has escaped flood damage this time with the flooding problems now affecting other parts of Ennis town centre.

Last night, 28 psychiatric residents of Cappahard Lodge remained on an emergency basis at Ennis General Hospital and its acute psychiatric unit due to the lodge’s sanitation system being flooded.

A HSE spokesman said last night that there are no plans to close Cappahard. He said: “The Cappahard Lodge patients are described as having settled in well to their new surroundings in Ennis General where they are being cared for by Cappahard staff who moved with them. They will return to Cappahard when flooding subsides and repairs have been carried out.”

The spokesman confirmed that the executive’s Bindon Street clinic in Ennis was cut off by flooding, while the executive’s Museum House, Ennis, where health promotion, drug and alcohol counseling and paediatric community services are located was under a foot of water and all clinics are cancelled. - GORDON DEEGAN