Skibbereen counts cost of a weekend of heavy flooding


Householders and business people in Skibbereen in west Cork were yesterday counting the cost after 3 ft floods swamped parts of the town causing damage estimated at between £250,000 and £500,000.

More than 80 householders and shopkeepers in Townsend Street and parts of Main Street were affected by the floods which built up early on Saturday when heavy rain lodged in the street after a main drainage system became blocked. Four local fire brigade units spent more than 12 hours helping to sandbag houses and pump premises, some of which were flooded to thigh height, when gallons of water poured in through doorways.

Emergency services including members of the Civil Defence, Skibbereen UDC staff, Cork County Council staff and gardai also rallied to the aid of pensioners along Townsend Street, bringing them food by inflatable boat.

Carpets, furniture, kitchen goods and woodwork were all badly damaged, with many elderly residents being particularly distressed by the experience, according to the Skibbereen UDC chairman, Mr Michael O'Dwyer.

A local publican, Mr Ger Carey, of the Horse and Hounds, said he woke at 5.30 a.m. to discover water flowing into his pub from the front, side and back doors. Downstairs he discovered the bar was under almost a foot of water.

"There were bottles floating around in the bar, but luckily our coolers were up high. If it wasn't for the gullies in the toilets allowing the water out, the water level would have built up much higher," he said.

Residents plan to hold a public meeting on Wednesday to lobby for further remedial work on the local drainage system including the covering of an exposed stream and the provision of a pumping house.

The local Fine Gael TD, Mr Jim O'Keeffe, called for immediate action by the Government to help the flood victims. "The Government must make funding available for an emergency flood relief scheme," he said.

Heavy rain in north Cork on Saturday led to the cancellation of the first Cork Grand National at the new racecourse in Mallow. The former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Imperial Call, was among the horses due to run.