“It could have been a lot worse - at least everyone got out alive.”
Landlord Kevin Stromsoe was in a philosophical mood on Wednesday as he surveyed damage to his property on Mill Road in Midleton when the house was submerged in 6 ft of water amid Storm Frank.
Kevin's tenants, Romanian couple Daniel and Monica Mera and their 14-year-old son Adrian, had wisely decided to abandon their home at 9.30pm on Tuesday night, wading out through 3ft of water.
Route 261 - not servicing Midleton, operating to/from Ballinacurra only #stormfrank— Bus Eireann (@Buseireann) December 30, 2015
Wallis' Bar still open but from there down to the bridge is a bit flooded. Rest of Main Street is grand. #Midleton pic.twitter.com/HulSTQynUf— Gavin Sheridan (@gavinsblog) December 30, 2015
Never remember #Midleton flooded that badly- or Main Street under water ..terrible!— WILL HANAFIN (@willhanafin) December 30, 2015
Flooding in #midleton #cork #StormFrank #ireland pic.twitter.com/Qi3HLW5shu— Bart photography (@holowatybart) December 30, 2015
Main Street in Midleton #Cork completely flooded this morning #StormFrank @C103Cork @IrelandAMTV3 ?????? pic.twitter.com/HSV2MKqUEp— Deric Ó h'Artagáin (@deric_hartigan) December 30, 2015
Midleton under water tonight #StormFrank pic.twitter.com/w4mFzWnW2s— Barry O' Mahony (@barryomahony4) December 30, 2015
They had feared, correctly, that flood waters would continue to rise.
“Daniel rang me at 10.30pm and I came over,” said Kevin. “They had got out at that stage and by then the water was half way up the window and it just kept rising - and it went right up to the timbers under the roof – it was at least 6ft deep at that stage.
‘They are devastated’
“Thankfully, they got out safely but they are devastated – they’ve lost everything – we’ve managed to fix them up with accommodation at the moment and all their possessions are gone, and we’re trying to get Daniel a car as he needs a car to get to work in Kanturk - it’s just unbelievable.”
As their neighbour and fellow flood victim Maurice Murray observed of the Meras: "They were lucky that they decided to get out then – otherwise they would have had to try and take refuge in the attic, as the flood waters kept rising to almost the eaves of their house."
The Murrays were relatively fortunate in that theirs is a two-storey house. As floodwater from the Owencurra river some 500m away flowed through a disused factory, across Mill Road and into their house, they were able to flee upstairs and watch the water envelope their home.
"We went upstairs - my wife Margaret, who has MS and limited mobility, my two daughters and Megan and Ann and Ann's boyfriend Steve Connolly - to take refuge and the fire brigade came and got all five of us and the two dogs out around 1.30am," he said.
“They couldn’t open the front door because the flooring had warped, so one of the fire brigade had to climb in an upstairs window and he went down and managed to open the door and they floated the raft into the house and took us out one by one – we were very lucky,” he said.
Flood barrier ‘useless’
Their neighbour John McSweeney had already been in touch with his mother Josephine, who was visiting her sister in Scotland, to tell her that her home had been flooded. "There's been flooding here before but nothing ever as bad as this – I put up a flood barrier but it was useless last night."
Traders in Midleton were also counting the cost, with up to 50 businesses at the eastern end of Main Street flooded, in some cases to a depth of 3ft or more, as a combination of high tides and heavy overnight rain caused tens of thousands of euro worth of damage.
Among those affected was pharmacist Martha Thomas of Walsh's Pharmacy, who came in at 8.30am on Wednesday morning to discover her shop under 18 inches of water and thousands of euro worth of stock damaged.
“We got a call from the neighbours around eight o’clock and they sent me photos - the water was in already at that stage.
‘Everything was floating’
“It came in both the front and the back so we were surrounded by water – everything was floating when we got in so there’s a lot of damage, it’s terrible,” she said.
Solicitor Denis Kelleher helped his sister Margaret to clean up her beauty salon as the floodwater subsided. "We're lucky in that it just came in the door - we've had flooding in Midleton before but I don't ever recall it coming this far up Main Street - we're just hoping there won't be a repeat tonight."
Gardaí reported that up to 20 families had to be cleared from houses at Mill Road, Distillery Lane and the Woodlands estate overnight, while the Army was called in to prevent the collapse of a wall at Distillery Lane.
Houses at Tir Cluain, Banogue and Coolbawn estates were also flooded, as was the main Cork-Waterford road which had to be closed to traffic between Castlemartyr and Killeagh.