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  • News

Storms lash Cape Clear Island causing substantial damage

Saturday, 11th January, 2014 2:43pm
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Storms lash Cape Clear Island causing substantial damage

A stone boundary wall on Cape Clear island was partially demolished by the ferocity of the stormy weather earlier this week.

A stone boundary wall on Cape Clear island was partially demolished by the ferocity of the stormy weather earlier this week.

BY JACKIE KEOGH

RESIDENTS of Cape Clear woke on Monday morning to tsunami-like scenes at both the North and South Harbours as the storm forces reached their zenith with a high tide at about 8am.

As dawn broke a growing crowd of onlookers gasped to see waves of more than 25ft lash the sea wall in the North Harbour – waves that sent spray over the roof of the clubhouse and extend up Cotter’s Hill.

When the sea wall broke, close to the clubhouse, the waves shot straight across the road, lifting cars and a portable cabin in that area and shifted them 30ft.

One eyewitness said that the portable cabin that is normally used by Cumann Iascairi Chleire ended up in the driveway of Mary Cadogan’s house, whilst a van owned by Dave and Sally, operators of the island’s famous yurt village, ended up partially overhanging the dyke in Mary’s field.

Even the plaque at The Holy Well was lifted by the severity of the winds and most of the picnic tables were destroyed. One of the windows in the island’s ‘Siopa Beag’ was also driven in by the gale force winds and the property sustained further damage.

Island representative, Séamus O'Drisceoil told The Southern Star: ‘We were fortunate that the deteriorating bulwark that is ‘Bull’s Nose’ did not collapse because if it had we could have expected to see the island clubhouse being reduced to rubble.’

Séamus reported that the booms in the harbour ‘did their job well’ and that all vessels in the inner harbour were ‘safe’ despite the fact that there was a huge amount of debris blown around the place.

In South Harbour, the sea wall was also broken close to the island hostel and this resulted in the road to The Glen being blocked. Here, the force of the elements also moved boats and cars and there are reports that water entered and damaged the hostel.

Speaking on behalf of the island’s co-operative, Séamus said: ‘We are thankful that there has been no loss of life but we commiserate with all those who have suffered material losses.’

Umpteen photographs of the damage were taken but many of these could not be uploaded because the broadband service was also hampered by the ongoing stormy weather. A selection may be viewed on www.southernstar.ie

Despite the size and scale of the damage and the huge deposits of debris that was dropped on the island’s road network, the community took decisive action and began a clean up operation as soon as the tide had receded.

However, it was only during the calm that the full extent of the damage became apparent: At midday on Monday it was clear that serious structural damage had been caused to the inner part of the main ferry pier, along the original stone wall.

The pier is now badly tilted and has a structural crack running for about 40 meters along the inside of the wall, and a hole has been gouged out where the pier abuts the beach.

Bull’s Nose – although surprisingly still standing – has been further seriously eroded with an estimated 50% increase in cracks, as well as further ‘crumbling’ of the structure, and there are deep holes of a depth of one meter deep gouged out of the top.

There are also many deep craters along the fishing pier area and a substantial amount of material has been washed into the inner dock.

The clean up operation is ongoing with the surface debris being removed to allow the free flow of traffic. Meanwhile, friends and neighbours are assisting in the repair of the damage that was caused to the ‘Siopa Beag.’

The repair of the garden walls at the hostel is being seen as ‘another job for another day’ as it is likely to require emergency Government funding.

Emergency funds are also likely to be needed to rectify the serious damage that was caused to the inner harbour wall that divides the inner dock from the rest of the harbour.

Some of the stone blocks that form the groove, which holds the booms, have been loosened and there are concerns locally that the booms might break free. If they do, the inner dock could flood and this could result in untold damage to the boats moored inside.

‘Given the very extensive damage to so many different areas,’ Séamus O'Drisceoil said, ‘it is clear that the island’s sea defences have been seriously compromised and another storm would have the potential to cause massive damage.’

However, he did point out that, just two months ago, the island community welcomed the announcement that a harbour works contract had been awarded to Keating’s Contractors.

This work will include the building of a new slip, the complete replacement of the ‘Bull’s Nose’ breakwater, and the installation of a hydraulically operated gate at the entrance of the harbour to replace existing booms.

Séamus said: ‘It is clear that the harbour reconstruction works, which are currently in progress, have come not a moment too soon, but it will require a lot of luck if the island is to get through the rest of this winter unscathed.’

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