People of Bandon counting the cost of another major flood

Met Éireann records 50mm of rainfall in 24 hours at Cork Airport

Bandon town centre, Wednesday, December 30th, 2015. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Bandon town centre, Wednesday, December 30th, 2015. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision


Traders and townspeople in Bandon in West Cork were on Wednesday night counting the cost of a second major flood inside a month as they and people across both Cork city and county braced themselves for several more days of heavy rain, as yet more storm fronts are forecast.

Met Éireann at Cork Airport reported 50mm of rainfall between 6pm on Tuesday night and 6pm Wednesday night as Storm Frank hit the south of the country and Bandon was among the towns to bear the brunt of the storm with over 50 premises flooded in the town.

Cork County Council issued a Red Alert at 2am on Wednesday and although neither the Bandon nor its tributary the Bridewell, burst their banks, water started coming up shores and gullies with premises starting from flood from 4am with flood waters peaking at around 2pm Wednesday afternoon.

By then, large tracts of the centre of Bandon – including South Main Street, North Main Street, Oliver Plunkett Street, Bridge Street, Watergate Street and Weir Street – were all flooded, in some cases up to depth of 3ft, and the main bridge across the town was impassable due to flood waters.

Lack of political action

Gillian Powell of the Bandon Flood Group was one of those affected with both her home and business, the Haven Creche on Watergate Street, under 2ft of water at one point and she was scathing about the lack of political action by successive governments to address the problem.

“It’s not the Nile we have here in Bandon – this is entirely foreseeable and entirely preventable, but for decades since the foundation of the state, successive governments have been negligent in terms of addressing flood relief schemes here and elsewhere in the country,” she said.

“There is simply no provision for flooding in Ireland – we get all these fine speeches, but no action until we twist the arms of the county council or the OPW — all of them and the government are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives and livelihoods and it’s just devastating.”

Local solicitor Myra Dineen told The Irish Times that waiting for flood waters to hit early on Wednesday morning was “like waiting for an execution – we knew it was going to come and there was nothing we could do about it – just wait for it to happen – it was just terrible.”

Cork County Council staff together with civil defence teams and members of Cork County Fire Service from Bandon and surrounding towns battled against rising flood waters through the night while local farmers came to help with slurry tankers to collect and clear flood waters from the town.

Much worse

Businessman and editor of The Opinion monthly magazine, Eddie Goggin said that Wednesday’s flood was much worse than the December 5th flood in that more areas of the town were affected and the flood waters were taking much longer to clear, delaying the clean-up operation.

“I met an awful lot of people in town today and they are at their wits end – I met more people crying today than I ever thought I would see in the town of Bandon – some business people just can’t take any more – they are devastated for the second time in a month.

“The last time was before Christmas and they had incentive to get up and running immediately as they had the Christmas trade to look forward to but this time, they are afraid investing and putting stock back in their shops when Storm Gertrude is coming in and could hit them again on Saturday.”

Elsewhere, Cork city centre appeared to have escaped flooding for a second successive night as the ESB increased discharges from the Inniscarra Dam on the River Lee to 250 cubic metres per second though business people have been warned that Storm Gertrude may bring flooding in the city.

In North Cork, flood relief schemes in both Mallow and Fermoy appeared to be working with both town centres escaping any major flooding but there was flooding on several roads in North Cork as well as in Macroom in Mid-Cork and Midleton in East Cork which suffered badly from Storm Frank.