About 20 properties in Bantry were partially flooded at 6am this morning in the opening hours of Storm Barra.
Although high tide wasn’t until 6.40am the force of the storm resulted in the lowest part of the town around New Street being flooded by several inches of water.
However, fire brigade station officer, Ian Vickery, said it could have been significantly worse if it had not been for the remedial flood relief works carried out by Cork County Council and the efforts of six manned pumps at various locations throughout the town.
‘We held the surge,’ said Ian, ‘but it is like bailing out a boat, it’s all down to whether or not you can bail faster than the water coming in.’
Although everyone was at their stations at 6am, Ian said, ‘mother nature was stronger than all of us.’
He said the Council’s decision to place several giant sandbags along the quay wall, opposite the garda station, has been ‘an absolutely fantastic addition’ to the town’s flood defence measures.
‘The force of the storm gusts meant the water could only come up the drains,’ he said. ‘If the sandbags weren’t in place there would have been significant flooding in town.’
Not only have the use of these sandbags become absolutely crucial, Ian said, two Council crews were working pumps they had purchased specially for the job, while one of the four fire brigade crews began pumping outside of the old cinema, two were deployed to pump lower New Street outside Twomey’s Butcher’s, while another pumped the area in front of The Gift Shop.
Although an estimated 20 properties were affected, Ian described the mood in town as ‘resilient’ as there was no major damage, such as the infrastructural devastation that was caused by previous flood events.
But the fire brigade, council workers and residents of Bantry are still braced for what Storm Barra might bring.
‘We haven’t had the worst of it yet,’ said Ian. ‘Midday will be the height of the storm for us.
There is also a high tide, and more storm surges predicted for 7pm this evening.’
The lack of rain has been of benefit too because the crews can focus on dealing with tidal waters instead of having to contend with surface water flooding as well.