Storm Barra: Bantry shop owner fears further unstoppable flooding

Cork councillor stresses need for flood relief scheme as over 20 premises flooded in town

 Members of the fire brigade pump away floodwater in Bantry, Co Cork: despite   defences in place 23 premises have been flooded. Andy Gibson/PA Wire

Members of the fire brigade pump away floodwater in Bantry, Co Cork: despite defences in place 23 premises have been flooded. Andy Gibson/PA Wire

 

Storm Barra created the perfect conditions for yet more unstoppable flooding in Bantry. This was the comment of a business owner in the town whose shop has been flooded four times in the last two years.

At about 6am on Tuesday morning, Peter Aylmer of The Gift Shop in Bantry town, received a call from a neighbour who lives close to his shop to say conditions were getting extreme and the water was rising fast.

“We had about two inches of water in the shop at that point but that wasn’t the end of it even as the high tide subsided,” he said.

Peter Aylmer’s The Gift Shop in Bantry town has been flooded four times in the last two years. Photograph: Andy Gibson/PA Wire
Peter Aylmer’s The Gift Shop in Bantry town has been flooded four times in the last two years. Photograph: Andy Gibson/PA Wire

“The prevailing wind coupled with the rain caused three separate surges, so the flooding would seem to be subsiding and then the levels would start to rise again.”

Bantry was laden with protective sandbags and other flood defences, which had been placed to protect as much as possible property and roads within the town.

“We did get ample warning from Met Éireann and the council teams were out placing sandbags, however, when all the conditions align, the wind, the tide, the rain, Bantry is going to flood and that’s that,” Mr Aylmer said.

Pumping stations

Even with the flood defences in place, 23 premises in Bantry were partially flooded as Storm Barra, with gale force winds gusting more than 130km per hour, coincided with high tide.

Local Independent councillor Danny Collins commended the work of Cork County Council, the emergency services and fire services, who were out from the early hours preparing for the floods and manning pumping stations in the town.

“The flooding could have been a lot worse if not for the hard work of the emergency service; they were out all night,” he said.

Sandbags piled up in the town of Bantry on Tuesday. Photograph: Andy Gibson/PA Wire
Sandbags piled up in the town of Bantry on Tuesday. Photograph: Andy Gibson/PA Wire

He urged the Government to implement the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme immediately.

“The Government needs to act now – we have been promised this flood relief scheme for years and this must be completed immediately.”

The storm also left a trail of uprooted trees and power outages, as well as flood roads along the southwest coast, with the inhabitants of the Mizen, Sheep’s Head and Beara peninsulas bearing the brunt of the storm force 11 winds, 7m waves and torrential rain.

Almost 1,500 homes and businesses were also left without power in Bantry and across the Sheep’s Head, Mizen and Beara peninsulas, with many landlines and mobile phones also dropping out of service as the high winds continued to cause damage across the area.