Cork city centre on flood alert as high tides forecast

Warning of a tidal surge and strong winds prompt flood warning for Wednesday

A file image of jewellers Roland and Shane Kennedy outside their shop in heavy flooding on Winthrop Street, Cork in October. With high tides forecast on Wednesday there are fears of renewed flooding in the city. Photograph: Darragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

A file image of jewellers Roland and Shane Kennedy outside their shop in heavy flooding on Winthrop Street, Cork in October. With high tides forecast on Wednesday there are fears of renewed flooding in the city. Photograph: Darragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

Traders in Cork city centre have been warned to put suitable defences in place as they face the prospect of being flooded for the second time in less than three months with high tides set to hit the city early on Wednesday morning.

Cork City Council declared a Level 3 alert as a period of high tides was set to lead to a rise in water levels in both the north and south channels of the Lee which is tidal right through the city centre to the western fringes of the city.

Cork City Council director of operations, David Joyce said that city centre businesses would be most at risk on Wednesday morning and predicted they could face the sort of flooding which hit the city on the morning of October 20th and caused extensive damage to over 20 business premises.

“A tidal surge and strong south-easterly winds are forecast for Wednesday morning at 6.21am. These factors combined with the morning high tide have the potential to cause significant tidal flooding in the city centre at this time,” he said.

“It is predicted that the flooding could be similar to the event on October 20th last. It is imperative that businesses take active measures to protect their premises so they can continue to trade later on Wednesday morning as we expect the tide to recede quite quickly.”

Mr Joyce said that Cork City Council was advising all businesses and householders to erect flood barriers on Tuesday evening so they were in place for the anticipated flooding on Wednesday while he also urged traders to postpone all deliveries until after 8am on Wednesday morning.

He said that up to 100 staff from across various Cork City Council departments would be on site across the city centre from 5am on Wednesday morning and would be supported by colleagues from Cork City Fire Brigade, Cork City Civil Defence and An Garda Síochána.

A file image of heavy flooding on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, in October 2020. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
A file image of heavy flooding on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, in October 2020. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Mr Joyce urged motorists not to leave their cars parked overnight in areas susceptible to flooding such as Morrison’s Island and Fr Mathew Quay while he also advised motorists to plan early morning journeys as he expected several city centre streets to close from 5.30am to 7.30m on Wednesday.

He said Cork City Council had distributed 500 flood warning leaflets to properties in the city centre and notified people they had a limited stock of gel-bags and sand-bags available for collection at the council department on Anglesea Terrace and the Tramore Valley Park Civic Amenity Site.

Mr Joyce said Cork City Council’s Flood Assessment Team was monitoring the midweek situation closely and would continue to issue regular updates on the tidal forecast to the council’s Twitter (@corkcitycouncil) account as well as to the City Council’s website (www.corkcity.ie).

Meanwhile Cork County Council’s Severe Weather Assessment Team met on Tuesday afternoon to assess the implications for the county of Met Éireann’s Status Orange Wind Warning which predicted gale force winds, veering south east to south west and gusting up to 110km/h

“Due to high seas, as a result of high astronomical Spring Tides approaching Highest Astronomical Tide, and strong onshore winds, there is a risk of coastal flooding tonight and on Wednesday, said Cork County Council on Tuesday evening,” said Cork County Council in a statement.

“Cork County Council is calling on property owners in coastal communities, in particular property owners in Bantry, Clonakilty, Ring, Kinsale, Midleton (along the Bailick Road and Dwyers Road), and also in Dunmanway, to undertake appropriate measures to protect their property.

“Council staff are preparing for these circumstances with sandbags and pumping arrangements while members of the public are advised to stay high, stay dry and stay away from the coast, rivers and lakes and they should also be vigilant about the risk of fallen trees and road damage.”

Cork County Council also confirmed that the Dursey Cable Car linking Dursey Island with the Beara Peninsula would cease operating once wind speeds exceed 65km/hr and operations would recommence following an inspection by Council staff.

Earlier, city centre traders spoke of their fears of a repeat of the October flooding when the south channel of the Lee burst its banks at Morrison’s Island and Fr Mathew Quay and spilled into the South Mall and flowed down into Oliver Plunkett Street.

Shane Kennedy of Diane O’Mahony Jewellers on Winthrop Street between Oliver Plunkett Street and Patrick Street told PJ Coogan on 96FM’s Opinion Line they were badly flooded in October and were dreading a similar inundation of water.

“The last flood came just two days before the last lockdown when we had to close our doors for six weeks - it was one of the days we were hoping to be busy but we lost half the day trying to clean up after it and get the place dried out so we could start trading again,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said they would have to rely on sandbags to protect their premises as they had an old Victorian shop front and entrance which prevented them from putting up the modern flood barriers and they would have to bail out flood water that seeped through the sand bags.

“What we do and what we have been doing for the past 40 years is putting up sandbags and we stay on the other side of the sandbags and we try and bail the water out over the sandbags as it seeps through,” he said.

“The high tide is expected at 6.20am tomorrow so we will put up our sandbags tonight and we expect to be in tomorrow at 5.30am to be on flood watch .... we need to get the clean up started as soon as the water drops because we want to open for business first thing in the morning.”