December 12th, 2015 8:05 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

A FLOODY MESS: Damien McCabe at his flooded home. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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Furious Bandon traders – once more devastated by floods – say government has forgotten them

THE people of Bandon came out in force this week to demand action on a Flood Relief Scheme for their town, as raging floodwaters devastated up to 50 businesses.

‘It’s a total mess-up with Cork County Council and the OPW,’ said Frank O’Leary whose shop O’Leary Fashions was devastated for the second time in six years.

‘We have been let down by the Government,’ said Gillian Powell, owner of the Haven Montessori School  on Watergate St, whose premises also fell victim to Storm Desmond.

‘If the fire brigade hadn’t been pumping water, it would have been a lot worse,’ said Bryan Powell, manager of Kevin Bowens clothes shop, which was also flooded.

Saturday night’s floods once more highlighted the need for immediate action on the flood relief scheme for the town. Two years of delays, coupled with a legal challenge, left the town once again vulnerable, as Storm Desmond proved. 

The River Bandon peaked at 3.4 metres early on Sunday morning, and over four million gallons of water were pumped off the streets.

While businesses across South Main St, Oliver Plunkett St and Bridge St suffered flood damage, the extent of damage to stock in premises that occurred in 2009 was avoided this time. That was largely down to the Bandon River FEWS (Flood Early Warning) system. Once a red alert for major flooding was given on Saturday afternoon, business owners had significant advance notice to prepare themselves.

At a special meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District on Tuesday, which was closed to the press for the first 75 minutes, councillors called for something to be done to avoid another catastrophic flooding in the town.

Fine Gael Cllr James O’Donovan said flooding in the town was a news story as far back as 1940, and said the Council would write to the OPW to see if interim works could take place urgently.

‘With the prospect of a two-year timeline before the scheme will happen, we need to do something and we are also looking for a monthly update on what is happening,’ said Cllr O’Donovan.

It was also confirmed at the meeting that Cork County Council will fund a Christmas Family Festival this Sunday that is being organised to encourage people to shop in Bandon.

Councillors were also united in their praise of all the emergency services that came to the rescue of the town last Saturday. The people of Bandon and beyond also made their voices heard when over 2,000 people turned up at a rally in the town on Monday night.

Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) said this week that councillors are united in pushing forward for what’s best for Bandon.

‘We will keep the pressure on them and we won’t be going away quietly. Listening to promises and waiting for the powers that be to cop-on and get the job done is no longer an option. We will keep campaigning until Bandon gets the flood protection system that it needs and deserves,’ said Cllr McCarthy.

With several companies now unable to get flood insurance, FF Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony is calling on the Government to seriously examine new insurance protocols for businesses and homeowners in flood prone areas.

‘West Cork is simply not on this Government’s radar. That has to change. We need our flood relief systems prioritised and I believe we need new protocols with insurance providers so that businesses and homeowners can get insurance cover. The providers are clearly uneasy about the risk of extending flood cover to certain areas, but if the Government and the insurance industry were to engage with the local authority, new protocols could be agreed that will help people get appropriate insurance for the future,’ said Cllr Murphy O’Mahony.

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