By Kieran O’Mahony and Jackie Keogh
STORM Diana showed her dirty side as she battered West Cork from early on Wednesday morning.
With a status ‘Orange’ alert in place by Met Eireann from 6am and extended up until after lunchtime, commuters found themselves contending with fallen trees, while several areas, including Bantry and Macroom, suffered power outages from dawn.
Severe strong gusts hit large parts of the county and while coastal flooding was expected, there were no reports of major problems. Sherkin Island bore the brunt of Diana with the island receiving the country’s highest gusts of 122km/h, which were recorded at lunchtime.
Roads were closed in some areas for a few hours, including the N71 near the Halfway Roundabout, the R586 Bandon to Dunmanway, and the R612 Carrigaline to Myrtleville, as Council staff and emergency services worked hard to clear routes from floods and fallen trees.
O’Mahony’s Bar in Newcestown had a lucky escape after a large chestnut tree fell onto the side of the bar.
Luckily, no damage was caused to the premises, and crews from local tree surgery Treepro quickly cleaned up the scene.
Power outages affected Béal na Bláth, Drinagh, Macroom and Bantry, with a peak of about 2,000 homes, farms and businesses without power.
fallen ESB wires, including ones down on the Shannonvale to Ballineen Road, near Keohanes Quarry in Clonakilty.
Meanwhile, in Skibbereen, St Patricks’ Boys National School, were up to their ankles in water on Friday morning.
Principal Alan Foley, said fast flowing water and blocked drains caused surface water flooding at the entrance to the school.
However, it was only when he and other staff members entered the building that they discovered they had an even bigger problem: a burst pipe in the staff bathroom had flooded the school.
It resulted in an inch of water in three of the eight classrooms, the central hall, and five store rooms and offices. But with teachers, parents and friends all lending a hand it was back to school again on Monday.
The town itself narrowly avoided flooding at flash points that morning as a result of high tides and heavy rain, however there were scenes of near chaos in places.
Cork County Council’s decision not to issue a Yellow Weather Warning caught some people unawares and the
Secretary of the Skibbereen Flood Committee, Cathal O’Donovan, called on the local authority to start issuing these warning notices.
Mr O’Donovan also called on the Council to carry out works on four flood risk areas that are not part of the town’s €18 million flood relief scheme. He said: ‘The risk areas that need to be distinguished from the flood scheme include The Cutting – which flooded on Friday morning – drainage works at Baltimore Road, the run-off from The Rock down Doctor’s Hill and the need for culvert drainage at Cork Road.’
The area that presented the most immediate risk was The Cutting. Council workers and flood relief employees cleared an open storm drain at The Cutting shortly before 7am but within 90 minutes it, and the drains down Bridge Street, had become blocked once again with leaves and other debris.
The blockage resulted in water flowing out over the storm drain, down The Cutting, and onto Bridge Street, where it was estimated that there was about five inches of water on Bridge Street.