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West Cork storm devastation

Friday, 10th January, 2014 4:20pm
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West Cork storm devastation

storm damag

storm damag

BY LEO McMAHON

SENIOR officials in Cork County Council were very busy this week counting the cost of road and coastal damage and have made an intitial submission totalling almost €3.25 million to central government for repairs in the aftermath of some of the worst storms to hit the county in decades.

At midday on Tuesday, road damage over the Christmas and New Year holiday season was estimated at €2,468,000 and the bill for coastal and marine repairs initially costed at €772,000, making a total of €3,240,000, but this figure is set to significantly rise as many areas, including the West Cork islands, had yet to be accessed for examination at the time of writing.

Without doubt, Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way,’ as the road from Donegal to Kinsale has been officially named for tourism purposes, most certainly lived up to its name, but several sections of it were, literally, washed away by strong winds, mountainous waves and high tides last weekend, while others were severely damaged by two weeks of severe weather and flooding.

Sheep’s Head peninsula, Tragumna, Cape Clear Island, Red Strand and the new boardwalk at Claycastle, Youghal were amongst the worst affected. There was also significant destruction and debris washed ashore at harbours, beach roads and damage to properties but the havoc wreaked wasn’t just confined to coastal areas.

Acting county manager, Mr Declan Daly, told The Southern Star: ‘Throughout the holiday period and in the past week, we have relied upon our Severe Weather Plan to respond to the weather impacts. Emergency crews dealt with almost 300 roads-related calls between December 23rd and 29th.alone. I would like to remind the public that relevant weather alerts are available by registering on the Mapalerter link on our website.

‘We are now assessing the cost of repair of the damage caused and will be responding to Minister for Public Works Brian Hayes’ announcement that central government funding will be made available to local authorities.

‘Clearly the coastal areas have borne the brunt of the weather on this occasion, but the heavy rain has also taken its toll on inland roads as well. The full extent of the damage will become clearer over the coming days as tide levels abate and full access to the sites becomes possible.

‘A fuller report will be made available to the council members at next Monday’s meeting,’ Mr Daly added.

At the request of the National Co-ordination Group on Severe Weather, county council officials, met a noon deadline on Tuesday listing all available information regarding emergency measures it had taken and where damage had occurred.

County engineer Mr David Keane said the next step was for the national group under the Department of the Environment and Local Government, having gathered information from all affected areas in the country, to send a report to the Government, which will decide next week what funding would be allocated, but in the meantime, council staff were busily involved in the ongoing clean up and emergency repairs.

Director of services for roads, Tom Stritch pointed out that between December 23rd and January 6th, the council had already spent around €400,000 on clean-ups, tree removals and emergency road repairs as a result of inclement weather and crews were also out spreading salt to combat ice on eight of those nights. However, the main damage occurred on the night of January 5th and 6th.

A long list of places in electoral areas where the storms caused damage and/or flooding was submitted and these included: Bantry area –Ballydonegan Strand gabions; Pallas sea wall, Faha coastal walk; Gerahies Road, especially at Loughaun and Fahane; Sheep’s Head, Ahakista-Durrus road and sea wall; Barleycove pontoon bridge; Wolfe Tone Square, Bantry; Cape Clear sea wall at North and South Harbours; Heir Island sea walls, Schull Harbour pontoon and sea wall and Audley Cove, Ballydehob; sections of road at Reentris, Trabaid and Travarra sea wall on the Beara peninsula and Cloughland beach, Bere Island.

Skibbereen area – Baltimore pontoon; Tragumna sea wall and car park; Mill Cove, Pier Road and the storm wall on Pier Road, breaches in sea wall and flooding at Crimson Mews and Mill Road, Rosscarbery; Lisscremin, Clonakilty sea wall and Red Strand sea wall; Dunworley, sea wall; Cow Strand, Sherkin Island sea wall and Timoleague-Courtmacsherry road, flooding.

Bandon area – Garrylucas-Garrettstown gabions and rock armour, where two cars were abandoned; Killeenitig, the culvert on the N71 near Half Way and the Half Way-Crossbarry. Midleton area – Bailick Road, Midleton, Garryvoe car park; Saleen to East Ferry sea wall land Claycastle, Youghal car park and sluice; Youghal – serious damage to Claycastle boardwalk built at a cost of €220,000 in 2012,

There was also flooding and/or storm damage at Main Street, Carrigaline, and Crosshaven Road; Glounthaune playground and some council houses throughout the county and inland damage reported in between Ballincollig and the county bounds, around Macroom, Mallow and Fermoy where the Blackwater burst its banks but thankfully there was no serious flooding in Bandon, Clonakilty and Skibbereen and miraculously, no reports of serious injuries.

Of the initial total of €3.24m, around €1.34m was the estimate of damage in the Bantry electoral area alone which includes Sheep’s Head and Beara, while the damage to Youghal boardwalk was put at €250,000. Mr Stritch stressed that these were effectively ‘guestimate’ figures as council officials endeavoured to meet Tuesday’s deadline at a meeting which also had inputs from the acting manager, the county engineer and senior engineers John Donegan, Niall O’Mahony, Aidan Weir and others.

Text weather alerts were activated, sandbags distributed, salt spread, demountable flood barriers erected and emergencies responded to by council, fire and other emergency services throughout the stormy Christmas holiday period and Mr Stritch added that damage was still being assessed as information came in, especially from islands cut off and battered during the hurricane strength winds.

At the same time, ESB and eircom crews were busy throughout the Yuletide season restoring power to thousands of homes in the county whose electricity and connections were cut off as a result of damage from gusts of up to 120 kilometres per hour. Bandon was one of the areas most affected.

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