One resident of one of the many coastal areas along the south-east hit by the latest bout of storm damage and flooding has described how “the streets turned into a river” in a matter of minutes this morning.
As well as Waterford city, New Ross and outlying areas, villages on either side of the Suir estuary were hit hard today by the combination of high tides, high winds and heavy rain.
The likes of Cheekpoint and Passage East on the western side of the estuary were badly affected by flooding, as were Arthurstown and Ballyhack in Co Wexford, while the Passage East-Arthurstown car ferry had to cease operations for some time in the morning before resuming later.
In the village Passage East, the rising tide backed by strong southerly winds meant for unprecedented flooding in the morning, particularly along Blynd Quay and in Post Office Square.
"It came in very quickly," local resident Sandra Mason said. "At 7.30am it was fine, but by 8am some of the houses were absolutely destroyed. I've never, in all my life living in Passage, seen anything like it. There's fences that have been washed away, houses destroyed, it's horrific."
The water receded later in the morning but severe damage was left behind. “Our house insurance doesn’t cover us for flooding but it has never, as far as I can remember, been this bad. It was just a stream of water. The streets turned into a river.”
Further west, Tramore was again hit badly by flooding to add to the damage caused by Storm Christine after Christmas.
The quays in New Ross were flooded, as well as the bridge outside the town leading to Co Kilkenny, while Waterford city’s quays were also hit with knock-on effects for traffic and local business.
A number of houses in Waterford, particularly in the Poleberry area and around Manor Street and Bath Street, had to be evacuated this morning when the high tide led to rapidly-rising river waters and, eventually, severe damage to local residences.
Ted O’Meara from Poleberry said the residents, many of whom had to be taken from the area by boat, had never seen such flooding in their district.
“The houses are completely destroyed,” he said. “And we’re afraid it will be the same tomorrow because of the high tides. The high tide came in at about eight o’clock this morning and there are sandbags outside the houses, but they didn’t stop the water. The tide is gone down now but they’re giving more of the same for tomorrow. It’s never been like this, in history.”
Residents and businesspeople in Clonmel in Co Tipperary have been keeping their fingers crossed that they will not be hit by the seasonal flooding, following the heavy local rainfall. The completion of flood defence walls and installation of demountable barriers along the town's quays appear to have done their job, so far at least, as the river Suir was clearly travelling above road level this morning but remained below the top of the new walls.
However, council officials and local people are on high alert, while upstream in Ardfinnan the Suir has burst its banks on a number of occasions recently.
“The flood defences seem to be working,” independent TD and native of the normally flood-hit area of Old Bridge in Clonmel, Séamus Healy, said this morning. “It’s very odd to be looking at the television and seeing floods in other places, but not here.”